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November 26, 2002
English 101, Section RRM
A Newfound Treasure
The house at 428 North First Street has been many things to many
people over the years. Once the home of George H. Dennett and now the
offices of M.E.L.D., it has remained the same, changing slightly to
accommodate the needs of a modem era. Built in the heart of a growing
city, the home overflows with charm and is a grand reminder of the past.
The 1 800s was a time of growth for Rockford. Its population and
industrialization more than doubled during this time. In 1 85 1, the
modernized Rockford Water Power Company took over and started
construction on a new dam. In 1 853, the dam was completed and provided
the growing city with adequate water power and "...thereby paving the
way to make Rockford into a key industrial city "(Nelson "City Bom in
In 1 852, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was introduced to
the newly declared city of Rockford. The first terminal was located on the
south east side of the river, between Kishwaukee and South Fourth Street.
The railroad was one of the greatest additions to the city, bringing with it
new jobs, new settlers, and new dreams (Nelson"City Bom in 1 852").
Along with the water power company and the expanding railroad,
the Manny reaper was a major contributor to the city's growth. The Manny
reaper, a harvesting machine, reduced the labor and cost of farming and
increased the production capabilities of the everyday farmer. Before the
reaper, the farmers used cradles and manually harvested their fields, and
with a full day of work could harvest three acres of grain per day. With the
Manny reaper mechanizing the farming industry, the average fanner
increased their harvesting capacity to 15 acres per day. The increase in
production and harvesting helped make Rockford one of the country's
main producers of wheat and flour (Nelson/'Manny Invents Reaper").
During the 1 800s, the city of Rockford grew, expanding from 2,563 in
1852, to 23,584 in 1880 (Nelson/'City Bom in 1852"). With all the new
settlers in the area many homes were built. This included the home at 428
North First Street. The origin of the house is unknown but George H.
Dennett and wife, Climenia, are the first know occupants of the house.
George Dennett was a businessman, who dreamed of owning his
own business. With his dream in mind, he moved across the country, from
New Hampshire, to Rockford, with his wife, Climenia, and opened a dry
goods establishment. Wanting to live near his business, the Big 2 Store,
located at 4 10 East State Street, he moved into the residence at 428 North
First Street and called it home. Mr. Dennett and wife Climenia lived in the
home from 1856 to 1920. After Mr. Dennett died, in 1915, his wife, Climenia,
continued to live in the home until 1 920.
The home was owned by several other families over the next few
years. Gust Flodell owned the home from 1920 to 1923. Joseph Lundahl
owned the home from 1 923 to 1 93 1 . Other than the original owners, Frank
E. Jones and family, are the longest known occupants of the house.
Occupying the home from 1 93 1 to 1 96 1 . After Mr. Jones' death in 1 94 1 , his
wife, Emma Jones, continued to live in the home. In 1 96 1, Emma Jones was
forced to sell the home, because of her old age and inability to care for the
home. Sadly, she sold the home to Charles A. Williamson who owned the
property from 1961 to 1973. In 1961, Robert A. Wiegers purchased the
home and maintained residence with his wife, Margaret. Margaret Wiegers
was the first resident to use the home as a place of business. Mrs. Wiegers
operated an antique and decorating business from the home. Her business
was known as "Prairie House". In 1 973, the home was sold to First National
Bank and Trust and remained unoccupied until 1 988. In 1 988, the home
was purchased by Rod Gust af son. Rod Gust af son restored and updated the
home, and used the home as the main office for his architectural firm, PG
Architects. In 1992, the home was sold and used as the main office for
Rockford M.E.L.D. M.E.L.D., or Mothers Establishing Life's Direction are the
current occupants of the house and have been an active part of the
Rockford community. The organization prepares teen mothers for the
demands of motherhood and provides them with skills that will help them
succeed in life.
The home has a unique and charming style. Built in 1856, it is
reminiscent of the Italian Villa style of home that was popularized on the
east coast by architect A. J. Downing. The home is characterized by its
irregular shape, unique molding, and tower or campanile.
The exterior of the home has remained about the same with the
passage of time. The base of the home is comprised of quarried limestone
pieces that have been carefully pieced together, and the exterior walls of
the home are made out of a refreshing, cream colored brick.
The home has as irregular shape. Comprised of three separate units,
the tower rests in the center with the larger of the two units projecting
slightly in front of the tower, and the smaller second unit extending behind
The larger, protruding unit is the most decorative part of the home.
There are many windows on this part of the home. The windows progress
downward gaining not only in size, but in number. Topping this procession
onto the veranda. The veranda was covered and laced with the same
ornate verge-board that covers both the roof and porch.
There have been a few changes to the exterior of the home. The front
porch was once small and cement. In the early 1990s, M.E.L.D. replaced
the broken porch with a large, wood porch. The small concrete walkway,
leading to the porch, was replaced with a large, old fashioned brick path,
and a modem lightpole was placed in the center allowing ample light to
shine on the jagged walkway. A waist high hedge runs along the north
side of the walkway, up against the triple bay window, and around the side
of the house leading to the back.
The back of the house has seen the biggest change. The backyard
was replaced with a blacktop parking lot. A brick walkway was installed,
and leads to the basement door, and is surrounded by a landscaped terrace.
The veranda, that was once the focal point of the backside of the house, no
longer exists. All that remains are the stained bricks and holes where it
once connected to the house.
The interior of the home is classic Italian Villa style. The lower level
of the home contains two large rooms on both sides of the staircase. As a
residence, the lower level, or first floor, consisted of a dining room and
sitting room on one side, and a living room/library on the other side of the
staircase. The living room/library was the grandest of the two rooms.
Larger is width, it also contained a fireplace and the grand triple bay
window. Currently, the lower level is a combination of offices divided by
glass partitions. The larger room with the fireplace and triple bay window
is now a large meeting room.
The upper level, or second floor, of the home originally contained a
large, open hallway with three rooms on one side and two larger rooms on
the other. When the home was a residence, these large rooms were
bedrooms. At the top of the stairs, the rooms to the right included two
bedrooms and a bathroom. The rooms to the left of the staircase were used
as a master bedroom and an attached nursery. As time passed and the
home's function changed, so did the use of its rooms. The upper level of the
home is now two separate offices, used by M.RL.D.'s many different
employees. The only major change on the upper level is the updated
restroom. It was moved across the hall and replaced the nursery. The
remodeled restroom includes new plumbing and fixtures, and newly
In the second floor hallway there is a door which leads to the attic
and the heart of the home. Behind the door, the true nature of the home can
be seen. The walls and floors are made of a solid wood. The wood appears
to be brown and dirty, but is really just colored by the aging of the wood.
The tower's staircase is in the attic. The once old, dirty, wooden
staircase has been covered with a light-colored carpet and leads up to the
highest point of the house. The small, square room has been painted white,
and the floor is covered with the same light colored carpet. There are four
small windows there. Each window faces out in a different direction north,
south, east, and west, allowing a 360-degree view of the surrounding
In the basement quite a few changes have been made. The
basement once contained a large kitchen and a storage area. In 1963, the
owners, PG Architects, remodeled the kitchen giving it a new look and
divided the storage area into smaller rooms. Currently, the basement is
being used as additional offices for M.E.L.D. and all that remains of the
kitchen is a small refrigerator and a few cabinets and counter tops(R.
With the passage of time, the house has undergone a few changes
that were necessary to its modem day owners. With the invention of
electricity, the home was updated and the lights that were once powered
by gas became powered by electricity. In the 1 980s when the home was
owned by PG Architects, it was both restored and remodeled. The lighting
in the home underwent a major change. The lighting fixtures, once small
and decorative, were replaced by larger halogen lights. In the large dining
room or meeting room the curved ceiling was remodeled and now includes
a large, decorative, dropped lighting system that was more functional to
the architects (R. Gustafson 2002).
Although the home has been remodeled, it has also been restored
and a few charming, old world reminders still exist. The interior of the
home still contains the original woodwork and intricate moldings. The
staircase's handrail appears handmade and the intricate molding on it
matches the exterior's verge-board. In the basement, the door leading
outside, contains an antique doorbell, that must be turned like a key, and
lets out a single ring. In the kitchen there is a large "window". Current
occupant, Karen Tilly, believes that it " was once used as a milk passage."
On the opposite side of the home, in a storage room there is a "window"
that " is believed to be an old coal chute.", also said by Karen Tilly.
In this writer's opinion the most charming part of the house is
outside. In the front yard, near the modem curb, there is an old, limestone
block with a rusty, cast iron loop. This solid, limestone block was once use
as a carriage and horse hold for the owners and their guests. This piece of
the house truly shows a contrast between old and new, modern and
This writer has spoken to some of the previous occupants and
surrounding neighbors, and they all had great things to say about the
home. Both Kurt and Sarah Bell, neighbors, agreed. " The house is very
beautiful. It was built around the same time as ours, ...being so close in
design and both placed so nicely at the corners they compliment each
other." said Sarah Bell. Kurt Bell also added, " For awhile there the home
was not being kept up, but it has been restored and it looks nice now." Rod
Gustafson, the previous owner, architect, and restaurateur, said, " I loved
the look of that house the first time that I saw it." He also said, "When we
moved our offices to the residence we needed to give it a lot of TLC, but it
was well worth it. The house has a lot of space and was well built. We were
there for many years, and I enjoyed working out of that location."
Known to only a few, this old world treasure rests gracefully in the
eye of a hectic, modem city. Built in the late 1 800s, this home has
withstood the test of time. With a century behind and a new millennium
still ahead the home retains its historic charm while still meeting the
needs of its current family. If these walls could talk, what new untold
stories would they share?
Bell. Kurt. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Bell. Sarah. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Bonne, Mark. Rockford Magazine. Fall 1996.
Downing, A. J. Cottage Residences.
George H. Dennett House." Building Permit. City Hall.
"George H. Dennett." Transfer of Title. Winnebago County. Rockford. Illinois.
Gregory. Ginny. Personal Interview.2002.
Gustafson Rod. Personal Interview. September 2002.
"Homes Magazine." Rockford Public Library. Local History Room. 1983.
"M.E.L.D. House." Building Permit. City Hall.
Nelson, Herman G. "Rockford History: City Bom In 1852." The Sunday
Morning Star. Rockford Public Library. Local History Room.
Nelson, Herman G. "Rockford History: Manny Invents Reaper." The Sunday
Morning Star. Rockford Public Library. Local History Room.
Nelson, Herman G. "Rockford History: Answer Call to War." The Sunday
Morning Star. Rockford Public Library. Local History Room.
Nelson, Herman G. "Rockford History: Booming City in 1800's." The Sunday
Morning Star. Rockford Public Library. Local History Room.
Nelson Herman G. " Rockford History: Start Furniture Plants." The Sunday
Morning Star. Rockford Public Library. Local History Room.
Tilly, Karen. Personal Interview. 2002.
Van Vechten. State Inventory of Historic Landmarks . Rockford Historic
Preservation Comission. Rockford. Illinois. 1981.
Wyatt, Craig. "Rockford's Lady Ghost* Surfaces Again." Rockford Register
Star 15 January 1974.
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George H. Dennett House: Front View(top) & Back View(bottom)
Inside view of triple bay window.
Fireplace in same room
as triple bay window.
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Magic" Door leading to veranda. Also shows where it once attached to the house.
Limestone Post in front yard.
A Mansion On A Hill
The Muller-Pinehurst Mansion Story
English Composition, Rock Valley College
Professor Scott Fisher
English 101 (RRM)
November 26, 2002
A Mansion On A Hill
If buildings and walls could only tell stories what would they say? More
importantly, what would the Muller Pinehurst Mansion say? Its limestone walls are still
strong after more than a hundred years of weathering. With constant changes it has
undergone, the various people that have owned it, this place would have a million stories
to tell. So here are some interesting things that if the walls could talk they would tell us.
Before the mansion, there was not too much on the southwest side of Rockford.
The usual field, stream, wild animals were all that inhabited this piece of land now
known as the corner of Montague and Pierpont.
The Sauk and Fox Indians had just been driven out of Rock River Valley by
federal troops in 1 832, so that is the only previous record of inhabitants in this area.
( Cunningham 2) The push of people moving and settling the West was now catching on
like wildfire, but along with expansion came growing pains. The expansion west caused
some of the saddest times in American history with the driving out of Indians from land
that was originally theirs.
Shepherd Leach was one of the first settlers in the Rockford area. He moved here
with only one friend, D.S Pinfield, a childhood friend back from his home in Vermont.
These two men started a retail hardware trade that grew and created such a good profit
the men were able to purchase 2,000 acres southwest of Rockford. ( Boyden 18) As time
passed, Shepherd Leach realized more and more that farming was what he really wanted
■ ■ , ■
to do. So Shepherd set up a claim shack on the land that he had co-purchased, which now
includes Muller Pinehurst Dairy, Montague Rd. and stretches all the way to the Rock
River. Shepherd eventually came to own all the land and become a very successful
sheep farmer. Because of his good fortune, Shepherd was able to build the large,
limestone farm mansion, surrounded by the hand - built limestone fence, which known
today as the Muller Pinehurst Mansion. (18). Also, these prosperous times allowed him to
keep in touch with one of his close friends, Abraham Lincoln. As evidenced in
Shepherd's journals, he and Mr. Lincoln wrote back and forth quite often (Boyden, E -
Mail). The house was built by using lumber that was brought in from Chicago by ox.
Shepherd traded three loads of grain for each load of lumber (18). The limestone walls
and fence were also all built by hand in 1850 (Boyden, E - Mail). There were also three
farmhand houses in the back, which were built during this time as well, and are still
standing to this day. The house was built between 1 839 and 1 840. During this time,
Shepherd lived in his claim shack. In 1 848, Shepherd Leach married Phoebe Allen from
back east, and had five daughters, with one dying when she was a child (18).
When Shepherd Leach's wife died, he moved away and sold the house and the
property to a group called the Martin Bros. After the Martin Bros, owned the house and
land, they then sold it to a family named the Brantinghams. The Brantinghams then sold
it to Hap Powell, who was the part owner of the Muller Pinehurst Dairy (Boyden, E -
Mail). The Powells are the ones who used to own the land that is now Muller Pinehurst
Dairy across Montague Rd. The Powells also added the two, grain elevator towers that
look like castle towers one can see when passing by on Montague Rd. The Powells
owned the house during the Mid - 1970's and Early 1980's
'• ■■■ !
The Powells sold the house and land to an Italian family who currently own the
house, and according to Kim Boyden (Shepherd Leach's granddaughter) will not tell
anybody their name and will not sell the house. The only person who has contact with
this family is the farm manager (Martin Goodrich) because this family will not speak to
anyone. When they originally purchased the house, however, the family requested that
the upstairs bedroom always be open and ready in case a member of the family wanted to
come and stay in America. There is one story, of a girl that was part of the family that
owned the house. When she stayed there she made the farmers mad incessantly with her
annoyance and mischievousness. She was "lovingly" called "The Can Tessa" which
shows the true feelings that the people that live here have for this family. The house is
now currently being lived in as a rental property and the farmland is also rented. (Karol
Rosher, Personal Interview).
If driving by the house during the fall last year, or driving by years before, the site
to see would have seen a glorious, big old barn that has now been destroyed. It is sad to
see something like that, something that even that part of the house this writer got to see,
leave history in a heap of wood. Also seeing some things such as a new wooden fence in
the front that never belonged there in the first place is disheartening. In that spot there
used to sit a part of the large limestone fence that went all the way around the house and
some of the property that it sits on. This has now been knocked away for the sake of
progress, and a highway department that says it is necessary for Montague Rd. to be
widened. People do not know, however, that the road that we know as Montague used to
be called affectionately by Rockfordians "Leach Ln" (even though that was never really
the road's official name) (Boyden, Telephone Interview).
There was also at one time a fountain that flowed water in the middle of the
driveway. The road leading up to the house has one side to come in and another to leave
going down the other side, and the fountain was in the middle. Today, there is a well
there and no outward sign at all that a fountain was there (Boyden, Telephone Interview).
There used to also be a water reservoir in the front of the house that was made
into a concrete pond. The interviewee remembers this by saying "there were always
ducks and geese in there." That is the only part of the property that is no longer standing
with the rest of the things mentioned (Boyden, Telephone Interview).
Another thing that is very interesting is there is a road that runs by the house
called Export Rd. It used to be called Rose Rd. and it used to connect all the way to
Simpson Rd. until the bypass was built and the road was blocked off (Boyden,
Telephone Interview). This house has more stories than one could tell, which is why it is
sad that Winnebago County might possibly want to tear the house down. They have
already started. A couple of years ago a front part of the historic limestone wall was
knocked out without permission, by the county.
Kim Boyden lives in Byron and is working very hard to keep this standing piece
of history around for future generations to know about. The clients who currently live in
the house are trying to negotiate with the Italian family about the purchase of the house.
The efforts, however, seem in vain as no one even knows this family name. Kim Boyden
says this about these changes that have affected her: "The wall coming down was very
disappointing, and not necessary especially since they took the stone and used it for the
bedrock for the new Harrison Ave. extension road project. Also, the barn would still be
there if it would have had a new roof put on it ten or fifteen years ago. Before the
bulldozer came and tore it down, me and my husband went in and took off one of the
barn doors, and it is still beautiful and in great shape" (Boyden Telephone Interview).
There are few things that have stayed the same for this house, or for the
interviewee, except the memories that it holds. She says "When the Powells owned it
after I had found out that Shepherd Leach was my grandfather, we delivered Christmas
cookies to them every year. I always enjoyed that because I got to go the house, and it
was just something special that I got to do every year. Since I have found the journals of
my grandfather I have been fascinated with everything. It so discouraging to see
everything go, and sooner or later the old bulldozer is going to come" (Boyden
Telephone Interview). The people that now live in the house are well liked and are
hoping to buy the house from the Italian family that owns it. Kim Boyden says "the
people now there are great, but they would have to spend a fortune for the upkeep. The
cost would be around $50,000 dollars to get the house back to how it used to be. The
family that lives there now cannot do anything about it though since they do not own it"
(Boyden, Telephone Interview).
Too many historic things are lost everyday for the sake of progress, but should be
left alone in peace, and many people feel the same as the family trying to save it. With
tools and knowledge and finding people that care, the County hopefully will be able to
see how historic and important that this house was and still is. This house means so
many things to so many people, as evidenced by the living granddaughter. The people
that live in the house now, Chris Isonhart and Karol Rosher would love nothing more
than to buy the house, fix it up and keep their family there.
Rockford in and of itself throws many things to the wayside, including history.
The city is not all to blame though. We as citizens have not taken enough time ourselves
to learn and educate ourselves and future generations about Rockford history. The writer
has learned much from this and even feels a personal connection. So get out, study and
enjoy Rockford history, before you have to read about what used to be here through a
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The 10-room residence is adaptable to other uses
The house, built in 1837, has been extensively modernized
Pinehurst Farm, probably tr
rural property around Rockf<
home for many years for the Gc
cows supplying Pinehurst Dairy,
tiful property of 310 acres has
into one of the area's finest i
fered for sale as a continuing
with all improvements.
The farm is also remarkabl'
for investment or for immediate
It is right at the exit ramp front
pass to Montague Road, a mail
into Rockford. It has long fror
roads, and also on Ogilby Road
Muller-Pinehurst Dairy plant, w
with Montague. This is only 1 A
city limits, and about a mile froi
heart of the city. Rockford Air|
via Rte. 20 By-pass and Rte. 2
Therefore a prime use for this
be for development into a I
park, a corporate office park, <
factoring center. Electrical pc
sewer are on the property. Tv
now take care of all farm need:
available a short way down r
A high-quality residential cor
be developed, with emphasis c
activities, adapting farm buildin
more horses, indoor tennis, h
social and child care centers,
pond, now used to raise du<
geese and snow geese, could I
veloped as a beauty spot for s
picnicking. Home sites of 5 to
with these facilities would appe
■ " •' ,
i 310- Acre Dairy Farm
to executives of firms occupying the indus-
trial/commercial section of the property.
Because Pinehurst Farm is operated as a
profit business, a new owner could continue
this while holding the land for further ap-
preciation, or developing several sections
over a number of years. The handsome old
farmhouse makes a charming home. It has very
protective landscaping, featuring large trees
including Junipers originally brought years
ago from China. The main section of the house
was built in 1837 of lumber hauled by oxen
from Chicago; wings were added in 1870 and
1889, and it now has 10 rooms (5 bedrooms)
and 3% baths.
There are 3 tenant houses and about a dozen
farm buildings, all in excellent condition. Ex-
cept for the building area, the entire acreage
is tillable, producing as high as 135 bushels of
corn per acre.
This region west of the city retains its coun-
try atmosphere, and yet is one of the few re-
maining large parcels this close to the city
that is suitable for a carefully planned and en-
gineered development. The proximity of Rte.
20 By-pass gives easy access to nearby shop-
ping centers and the vast recreationlands of
northern Illinois and Wisconsin.
Rockford, with a metropolitan area popula-
tion of 272,063, has a most important indus-
trial position. It ranks as the second largest
machine tool center in the world, and the
largest fastener and screw products manufac-
turer in the U.S. The city's 575 industrial plants
produce a diversified list of products shipped
throughout the world, and establish a progres-
sive atmosphere contributing to Rockford's
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The pond; a site for swimming and picnics?
A field used for grazing and crop production
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OFFERED AT $930,000
Equipment and livestock available
under separate sale.
TABLE OF FACTS
LOCATION: Rockford, Winnebago County, Illinois.
Important industrial center, over 6,000 diversified products;
trading center for over 600,000 pop. Excellent school
system, including Rockford College, Rock Valley College.
Good golf courses, many recreational and cultural features.
Chicago, 75 miles. Beloit, Wis., 20 miles. Freeport, 25 miles.
PROPERTY: Approx. 310 acres. Approx. 295 tillable;
balance in bldg. area. Gently rolling, all highly improved.
Approx. 210 acres in corn, yielding up to 135 bu. per acre;
balance in hay, oats, suddex, and pasture. Completely
fenced and cross-fenced.
ROAD FRONTAGE: Rte. 20 By-pass
(west boundary) Approx. 4224 Ft.
(northwest boundary) Approx. 1584 Ft.
Ogilby Road (north boundary) Appr?x. 900 Ft.
Private drive of tar and gravel or concrete to all build-
ings; large parking area.
WATER: Two Wells with 17,000-gal. Storage Tank pro-
vides water for entire farm. Large Duck Pond at entrance,
well secluded by trees and bushes.
UTILITIES: Electric lines to all buildings. City sewer
through east section to Muller-Pinehurst Dairy. City water
lines at Michigan Ave. approx. 1/3 mile.
RESIDENTIAL GROUNDS: Encircled by stone wall built
about 145 years ago. All beautifully landscaped, fountain,
broad lawns, maples, various evergreens, seaside pine
(unusual in this region), junipers brought from China in
1914. Rear barbecue area.
RESIDENCE: 10 rooms (5 bedrooms, 3% baths). Approx.
3500 sq. ft. Built 1837, wings added in later years. Stone
and frame construction, shingle roof. Extensive moderni-
zation with care for architectural authenticity; new plumb-
ing, new electrical service, 3-zone oil-fired hot water
heating system. 1,000-gal. oil storage tank. 80-gal. electric
water heater. Water softener. Pressure tank. Septic system.
1ST FLOOR: Screened Porch, cement floor, goes around
northeast corner of house. LIVING ROOM (18' x 36'),
carpeted, fireplace, window A/C unit. SITTING ROOM
(18' x 15'), lovely casual, relaxing room; rich cherry wood>!
bought particularly for this room, milled and cut foSj
walls, floor, bookshelves; wide picture window. DINING*
ROOM (18' x 15'), carpeted, wallpaper, window A/C unit."
KITCHEN (21' x 12'). beautiful pine paneling, tile floor,
Breakfast Nook. Enclosed Porch (2V x 16'), windows on 3
sides, pine-paneled walls and ceiling, tile floor. Master
BEDROOM (21' x 15'), carpeted, wallpaper; Dressing
Room; Bath, ceramic tile.
2ND FLOOR: Solid oak floor throughout. Hall, exhaust
fan providing excellent ventilation for house. Three BED-
ROOMS (15' x 18', 21' x 18', 10' x 18'). Hall Bath, ceramic
tile. BEDROOM (24' x 18'); adjoining Bath.
BASEMENT: Stone walls, hand-hewn beams and joists.
Detached 5-car GARAGE (66' x 24'). STORAGE BLDC.
OUTBUILDINGS (All in very good condition)
1. Stucco FARM OFFICE/STORAGE BUILDING (28' x
2. Stucco BARN (50' x 36'!, 2-story, concrete floor, 3
pens, 4 box stalls.
3. Frame GRANARY (50' x 30'). 2-Story, grinder, 12 bins.
4. Concrete block FARROWING HOUSE (60' x 24'), 12
pens, fenced 12' x 50' concrete areas on both sides.
5. Frame HOG HOUSE (60' x 30').
6. MACHINE/EQUIPMENT BLDG. (60' x 50'),
7. MACHINE/EQUIPMENT BLDG. (85' x 60'),
floor: Work Shop, furnace, gas storage tank.
8. Stucco BARN and MILK HOUSE (130' x
cleaner. FEED SILO.
9. Stucco BULL PEN (35'
0. BARN (60' x 36'), 2-story
1. Two metal GRANARIES, 20,000 bu
has gas dryer.
TENANT HOUSE #1 : 2-story stucco, 3 bedrooms
capacity; 1 unit
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Boyden, Kim. "We're 150" Rockford Register Star
9 June. 2002, Early Families P. 18.
Boyden, Kim. E - Mail to author. 6 October, 2002.
Boyden, Kim. Telephone Interview. 31 October, 2002.
Cunningham, Pat. "We're 150" Rockford Register Star
9 June. 2002, Pre-1850's P.2.
Rosher, Karol. Personal Interview. 9 September, 2002.
Highly Improved 3 10- Acre Dairy Farm.
Photographer and paper unknown. Personal photo from Kim Boyden.
Public Sale, Shepherd Leach Estate. Rockford IL.
Public Sign. Date of sign unknown. Acquired from Kim Boyden.
Pinehurst Farm - A Showplace Operation.
Photographer and date unknown. Photo from when the Powells sold the house.
Personal photo from Kim Boyden.
Shepherd Leach Estate front view.
Personal photo from Kim Boyden. Circa 1870's.
The Front of the House as it Stands Today.
Photo by Scott Fisher. 21 October 2002.
Northwest from Parking Lot
(Photo c/o Judy Gambrel)
National Lock, The Heart of Rockford
English Composition, Rock Valley College
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English 101 NA
9 December 2002
The National Lock building is an amazing structure that still stands
strong. Strong enough that many companies still utilize its great space. The
building is extremely old, but it is constantly being renovated. It is amazing that
its massive weight has not cracked the foundation and sent the building
tumbling down. Exciting facts like the massive machine "Big Bertha" that once
covered three-thousand square feet of the sixth floor are but some of the best
stories to read about. However, its formation, and how it all began is even more
intriguing. The building is six stories tall, and its mass covers two city blocks.
The employee parking lot is one entire city block. This large structure was once
part of Rockford's workforce. Its mass alone is remarkable enough to welcome
history buffs. Yet, there is much more to learn about the building.
Rockford started out as a furniture building town. From the time the
business was formed in 1903 by three Swedish settlers, F.G. Hogland, P.A.
Peterson, and Levin Faust, it has grown and changed in many ways. Furniture
building was the foundation of business in Rockford in the early 1900's ("In Our
The building has undergone many changes. At one time, the sound of
rumbling trains roared in and out of the facility. Dozens of what are now vintage
cars filled the parking lots of this once thriving company.
National Lock is now owned by National Business Machines. They work
on the building consistently on a daily basis. They are constantly upgrading the
plumbing, electrical, and internal structures to allow companies to rent out the
space for manufacturing and storage. Anderson Packaging, a Rockford-based
packaging firm rents a vast amount of the space to house their packaging
operation for Procter & Gamble (Atkinson).
The groundskeepers are the heart and brain of the building. Everyday
they build new walls and arteries to rejuvenate the old building, keeping it alive.
Finding it is easy; just look for the large four-sided clock seven stories high, and
follow these simple directions.
Heading west on US route 20/39 Freeport, take the north 11 th Street/ 251
exit. Drive north on 11 th Street about three miles. After crossing some railroad
tracks, turn left onto 18 th Avenue. Continue on 18 th Avenue to a stop sign. This is
9 th Street. The National Lock building is just ahead between 9 th Street and 7 l
Street. When the sunlight fades away, and the street is covered in darkness, the
building is within reach.
The building creates a dark shadow that looms for several blocks, creating
a partial eclipse for those standing on the side of the building opposite the sun.
Its stature is solid and strong. During the day one hears the sound of pigeons
fluttering in and out of the broken windows. At night it is more intense. The
building seems to come to life. Elevators engaging and disengaging clatter loudly
across the night sky. Bats swarm in and out of the broken windows. The lights
within the building create an electrifying glow on objects outside. The windows
are like the eyes of a vicious lion that follows a persons' every move. Walking
around the building at night can be a little scary. The broken windows, fluttering
pigeons and bats can send chills up and down one's spine.
Although the building's massive size can be dark and intimidating at
night, it sits calm and relaxed during the day. The sound of morning birds'
whistling echoes off the surrounding buildings in the courtyard around the back
of the building. Since the building is still in use today, it has a new and modern
appeal mixed with its original foundation. Most of the broken windows have
been filled in with concrete blocks and painted. Windows were needed in the
past for ventilation. However, in the modern age, air conditioning units keep the
building cool (Atkinson).
One of the biggest influences to National Lock was P.A. Peterson. He was
a highly intelligent person and a man of his word. His honesty and reputation
made him a wealthy individual. Peterson was president of National Lock until
his death in 1927. During his time at National Lock, he managed to develop
relationships with many successful business owners from all around. These
relationships led to opportunities for designing and manufacturing screws, bolts,
and cabinet locks that would go on furniture designed by many manufacturers.
After Peterson's death, F.G. Hogland took his seat as President of National Lock.
P.A. Peterson was shareholder and manager of Standard (later Rockford
Standard), Rockford Miter Box, and Hanson Clock, to name a few. He gave many
contributions to several companies during some of their rough times. Some of
the companies he purchased, others he joined as an investor (Lundin 80-81).
The first product that National Lock produced was a cabinet lock.
However, they also made screws, bolts, hinges, knobs, casters, aircraft
components, and locksets. As the company grew larger, they expanded with
many other inventions ("Big Business..."). Among one of the more interesting
inventions was "Big Bertha."
Big Bertha, developed by National Lock, was one of the largest single
machines built. It covered a 3,000 square foot area. "Big Bertha" was given its
name by Lenoard E. Weeg, the Superintendent of the finishing division. On
January, 1954 the machine was installed. The huge machine was raised to the
sixth floor by a giant crane. Twenty feet of an outside wall was removed in order
to get the parts inside. Ten tons of copper was used to generate the electricity to
power the machine from 400 horsepower of generating equipment. Big Bertha
was a plating machine. Its purpose was to chrome plate zinc die castings. It could
also apply a lustrous brass finish ("In Our Own..").
The lustrous brass parts were sought by cabinet makers from abroad.
Handles, locks, and brass hinges were great looking hardware to fit onto the
beautifully constructed furniture made during the early 1900s. ("Rockford's
Largest. . ."). By the '50s and '60s National Lock was producing around 25,000
different products ("In Our Own...").
The world was constantly changing and modernizing. Updated
designs and modern inventions led to change in the style and appearance of
parts. National Lock stayed at the forefront of those changes and continued to
please their customers with their products ("In Our Own...").
After 1927 when P. A. Peterson retired with ill health, the company
suffered rough times such as bank failures, legal disputes, a strike, and later the
Depression. Eleven years later, on December 13, 1938, Frank G. Hogland died.
A.J. Strandquist took over operations of National Lock at that time. A.J.
Strandquist was Purchasing Agent for National Lock for several years. His
business ties with Peoria firm Keystone Steel and Wire made it possible to re-
build capital for the company. Mark A. Sommer, director of the Keystone firm,
was elected Executive Vice President of National Lock. He pulled more of his
Keystone officers in, and the company pulled itself out of recession. By 1941,
National Lock had become one of the nation's largest suppliers to the appliance,
automotive, and furniture industries. The upcoming war could have hurt the
company, but instead National Lock became one of the largest manufacturer of
aircraft screws and bolts in the United States ("Turning Back. . .").
In 1983, a time when the economy was striving; National Lock moved all
of its operations to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Rockford Process Control got its
start by buying the companies stamping and metal assemblies division. Rockford
Process Control remains in the National Lock building today using the one-story
building located at 20 th Avenue and 7 th Street just South of the very first building
constructed in 1910 (Orr).
Currently, the larger portions of the National Lock building are owned by
Maury and Judy Gambrel. National Business and Industrial, located at 1922 7 th
Street, is where their office is located. "Around eighty percent of the building is
leased out now," Judy said in an interview. "Our next project will be to demolish
the electric plant." Although the electric plant is part of the historical landmark,
it is un-usable for leasing. The electric plant has no open floor space, no docks,
and is in need of much repair. It would not appeal to anyone for rental space. She
also mentioned the desire to make the four-faced clock functional again. "It is
hard to find anyone to work on it" she stated (Gambrel).
The building is a standing landmark that symbolizes some of the
powerful businessman of Rockford's past and how their determination helped
Rockford grow as a community. Many of the houses that were built in the past
were constructed using a vast array of parts made by National Lock Corporation.
Today, the building is a reminder of our past. Most people drive by the building
unconcerned, without thought, or without the knowledge of its history. One
must take the time out of their busy schedules to stop, look, and applaud this
amazing structure. Behind the thousands of bricks and concrete is the still
beating heart of what Rockford is today.
English_ 101 NA
9 December 2002
Bateman, Newton. Historical Encyclopedia Of Illinois . Chicago: Munsell, 1914.
Bunk, John. Personal interview. 1 1 Oct. 2002.
Gambrel, Judy. Personal interview. 26 Oct. 2002.
Lundin W. Jon. Rockford -An Illustrated History . Chicago: American Historical, 1997.
Orr, Kathy. "Rockford Process Control." Rockford Register Star : 21 JAN 1988.
"Rockford's Largest Building erected." Rockford Register Star : 1 1 FEB 1946.
"Turning Back the Clock." The Source. Winter 1955.
(Photo taken from book "Rockford, Jon W. Lundin Pg.80)
View from Sky of National Lock
(Photo c/o Judy Gambrel)
' ■ •
■ ■ ■ ■ • . . •
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1906 1963 Hardware
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1925 1963 Trim
1930 1963 Hardware
1933 1963 DieCa3tm
1080 1963 Lockset*
Photo of Parts made by National Lock
(Photo taken from Company Newsletter entitled "The Source" Summer 1963)
View from South 7 th Street
(Photo by Mark Atkinson- 2002)
National Lock Electrical Plant, 8 th Street and 20 th Avenue
(Photo by Mark Atkinson - 2002)
The Hotel Nelson
An Era of Grandness
Rock Valley College
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Rock Valley College
The Hotel Nelson- An Era of Grandness
The Nelson Hotel no longer stands in Rockford, Illinois. The hotel was built in an
era that no longer represents what this city stands for. There is a structure that does stand
there now, but it is not the building that was under construction in 1892, and completed in
The Hotel Nelson happened upon chance. Antes Ruh and Charles S. Brantingham
had a vision and somehow managed to scour up $12,000 to buy the vacant property that
was located on the corners of South Main and Chestnut Streets. The two men really had
no plans for the property; they just thought it a wise investment ("Nelson Hotel
Purchased in 1890").
Rockford's immigrants were mainly from the Scandinavian countries, particularly
Sweden. Among the new arrivals was John Nelson, who invented a knitting machine that
revolutionized the hosiery industry. Nelson, who was bom in Sweden in 1830, came to
Rockford in 1852. John Nelson, however, was never of vigorous health. In 1883, at the
age of 53, he died leaving the business he started in the hands of his sons, Frithiof,
William, Oscar, and J. Franklin Nelson.
Colonel William Nelson, as he was known after his appointment to that rank by
Governor Yates, continued to be active in other firms, therefore his excitement for
business affairs increased. With his brothers, Colonel Nelson purchased the land from
Ruh and Brantingham and started the foundation for a hotel that would be named after his
An early advocate of the linking of the southeast end with the southwest side of
the city, Colonel Nelson was one of the major supporters of the movement to build a
bridge spanning the Rock River at the south edge of the city.
The Nelson brothers believed that with the construction of the bridge, not only
would it benefit the hotel but also the other merchants that were in the area at the time.
Those merchants included Porters Drug Store, Levi Multhrop Dry Goods, Stewart's Dry
Goods, and the place where all the business men met for a glass of beer was the "TiiyT
In 1892, the construction of the Nelson Hotel began. It was a panic year and
businesses came to a standstill. Workmen stood in soup lines; twenty-seven industries in
Rockford went into receivership, wiping out P. A. Peterson's vast holdings. History
repeated itself in the local election. The "A. P. A." political organization, stronger than
ever, elected Amasa Hutchins as mayor, defeating former mayor Alfred Taggart and
The Charles S. Frost Company, out of Chicago, Illinois was responsible for the
creation of the Nelson Hotel. The cost of the entire structure was estimated at $250,000.
There were many investors that helped with the construction of the Hotel. It appears that
Colonel Nelson's brothers were the prime investors in the construction.
The Nelson was the leading hotel, with 300 rooms; the structure was six stones
high and took up the whole city block. Located on the west side in the center of the
business district, it was convenient to assembly halls and places of amusement. It was
modern in its appointments, with a unique coffee shop, themed named rooms, w itli the
best food and dance music (Rowe). The fact that the hotel was located in downtown
Rockford made it even more convenient for people to have access to. The railcars, train
stations located nearby, allowed easier ways to go and visit the hotel.
The hotel saw many changes from the day it first opened on October 19, 1892
("Hotel Nelson A Social Hub For Rockford"). The hotel hosted its first visitors on the
night of October 25, 1892 with the grand opening gala dinner that attracted people for
miles around. The hotel's rooms were filled months before the night even happened.
Anybody who was anybody was there.
If the Nelson Hotel was only noted because of its guests, that would be statement
enough. Before 1920, the Nelson hosted Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, presidential
candidate William Jennings Bryant, General Pershing and Judge "Kenesaw Mountain"
Landis, the commissioner of baseball, who stayed at the facility while deliberating the
fate of the Chicago "Black" Sox players who threw the 1919 World Series in exchange
for money from a notorious gambler. Rockford, with its reputation as a dry, moral city,
was a perfect "mound" for Landis to preach from (Rowe).
Many changes occurred at the Nelson over the years that it remained open. The
first major change that occurred at the hotel was in 1901 when the north section of the
hotel was erected. The hotel remained the same for the next 16 years. On October 1 3,
1917, the hotel added showers and bathtubs to the already existing 200 rooms ("$400,
000 Annex to Nelson Now Sure Thing"). On August 28, 1920, a cafe and cafeteria were
added to the hotel. This created a few new jobs and allowed people besides the hotel's
guests to enjoy the food that the hotel had to offer ("Nelson Cafe and Cafeteria Will Open
The management determined that they would like to update the hotel's
appearance and decided that the way to do that would be to take on "themes". Some of
these rooms included the Billiard, Crystal, Jade, Grecian, and Blue rooms. When it came
to the lobby, the planners decided on an "exotic" look. Burnt orange, sunshine yellow,
and sea foam green were a few of the colors that graced the walls. Large plants, colorful
cushions and carpet were placed sporadically around the room to give it the feel of a
Grecian atmosphere ("Nelson Hotel On The Way Back").
The hotel had a bar, which was kindly named the Kit Kat Room (the men's way
of calling the waitresses, "Here, kitty kitty"). The bar did some remodeling to this part of
the hotel when the lease was handed over to a new firm ("Firm Leases Nelson Hotel").
The last major change to occur at the hotel was when the hotel's management
decided to catch up with the times and have air-conditioning added. With all of the
changes that were occurring at the hotel, more space was needed to provide adequate
parking for the hotel's guests. On December 15, 1957, both of these were added to the
hotel. One hundred thirty- five parking spots were made on the streets and on the
basement floor of the hotel ("Boost for Downtown Rockford").
The hotel began to see a decrease in business shortly after the last of the
remodeling was done. Downtown Rockford began to see more hotels being built due to
had once possessed.
The memories and recollections of Mr. Leslie P. Ware (a close family friend)
about the hotel were not all pleasant ones (Ware Interview). Mr. Ware recalled that
although there were people of color that were prestigious to the community and well able
to afford to visit the hotel, no people of color were allowed to stay at the hotel. In the late
'50s, people used to have what was called a "sit in" (an event in this particular case that
protested the discrimination of allowing people of color to be guests of the hotel). Mr.
Ware and the late Rev. E. H. E. Gilbert organized such an event that was aimed at the
Nelson. The protest lasted for many hours. The barrier was finally broken when the staff
agreed that the protestors were right and walked off the job to join them. This brought
about a resolution and the protestors completed victory (Ware Interview). Although
people of color were eventually allowed to stay, Mr. Ware noted, that in his opinion, the
people of the community sort of lost respect for what the hotel represented, and that is
when the business began to fade. He recalled coming back for a visit from his home state
of Minnesota and attending some of the social dances that were held there for the soldiers
of Camp Grant (Ware Interview). Volunteers from the community would often hold
dances throughout the city for the soldiers that were stationed here in Rockford at Camp
Grant. These dances were initially held for the soldiers, but with the soldiers befriending
civilians, they were eventually open to the public. Mr. Ware recalls that some of the first
dances that he attended at the hotel were those that he still carries in his memories as the
most enjoyable fun that he had ever had (Ware Interview).
Early in 1960, the hotel had shut its doors and remained abandoned for a few
months. The city bought the hotel and sold or auctioned off the remaining items that
were in the building. After that, demolition of the hotel began and finally on August 8,
1960 the building was raised and leveled ("Nelson Coming Down").
The ground was cleared and the smoke settled. Smells of food still linger in the
area due to the small cafe that sits on the corner and from the Italian restaurant that stands
around the corner offering "lots of pasta".
The property that was once the city's finest and grandest hotel has now become a
parking garage for the Amcore bank that is located across the street from where the hotel
once sat. The Nelson Hotel saw many people and changes along the years. It still
captivates this writer's attention with stories, photographs, and memories that come from
that time so long ago.
"$400,00 Annex to Hotel Nelson Now Sure Thing." Rockford Daily Republican. October
13, 1917. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"Boost for Downtown Rockford. " Rockford Daily Republican. December 1 1, 1957.
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"Firm Leases Nelson Hotel." Rockford Morning Star. July 2, 1948. Rockfordiana Files,
Rockford Public Library.
"Hotel Nelson A Social Hub for Rockford." Rockford Daily Republican. October 1,
1929. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"Nelson Cafe And Cafeteria Will Open Thursday." Rockford Morning Star. August 28,
1920. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"Nelson Coming Down — An Era Ends." Rockford Daily Republican. August 6, 1960.
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"Nelson Hotel on Way Back." Rockford Daily Republican. November 23, 1944.
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"Nelson Hotel Purchased in 1890." Rockford Morning Star. March 30, 1938.
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
Rowe, Ford F. Rockford Streamlined , 1834-1941, Pages 143-146.
Ware, Leslie P. Personal interview. 1 1 October 2002.
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Sued Broads. French Peas.
Cutlet*, of Pheasant. Farce L' Italian.
Boned Turkey. Aspic Jelly.
Chicken Salad, Mayonaise.
Neapolitain Ice Cream.
Black Fruit Cake.
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The Nelson Hotel, Kockford's premier
meeting local:/:': during (he early part oj
the twentieth century, was chosen to provide
the food, service and atmosphere for the
celebration welcoming WW I hero General
Pershing to the Forest City. A visit to
Camp Grant was on the general's itinerary.
The Good Old Days at The Old Stone School
English Composition, Rock Valley College
The Good Old Days at The Old Stone School
"Their job is over but the one-room schools linger on in hallowed tradition, a
multitude of new uses and the cherished memories of millions who attended them in the
past several decades. The stronghold of learning in their day, the rural schoolhouses made
a substantial contribution to American democracy and the growth years of the mid-
One-room schoolhouses were used in the 1 700s through the 1 900s in many small
towns. The people that lived there did not have enough money to build the bigger schools
that the city had. Even though the schools were so small, they served their purpose: to
It all started in 1825, when a state law was passed providing free public schooling.
"By 1855 another state law, the Edward's Bill, was passed making it mandatory that
communities provide free public schools(La Ruffa)."
At that time, "the city council of Rockford adopted an ordinance creating two
school districts within the city limits." District # one was to be on the east side of the
Rock River while District # two on the west. In 1857, Lincoln and Adams schools were
the first public schools built(Espy 4). While the city was growing and expanding, the
people in the small towns had the children still attend the one-room schools, for example,
the Old Stone School in District 97 on Townline Rd. near Byron, Illinois.
From 1 890 until early 1 900 the Old Stone School was filled with farm children
from the Byron area. "The building was made of stone, hence the school's name."
Unfortunately, it burned to the ground in 1 902, but was replaced by a wood structure a
year later("School and Hotel").
In 1971, the Rockford Park District moved it to the Children's Farm on Safford
Rd. for display and educational use. Then, in 1979, it was moved again to its present site
at Midway Village off of Guilford and Perryville in Rockford, Illinois("The Old Stone..").
Midway Village is a museum full of local history artifacts and has approximately
23 buildings that were either duplicated or renovated to make the village look like it is in
the 1900 era. In the Old Stone School, the 20 wooden childrens' desks, the teacher's
desk near the wood-burning stove, the very limited old time library, map cases and
blackboard that filled the one side of the wall are present. Kerosene lanterns,(because
electricity was not used) hung on the ceiling for light and a 45-star flag hung in the corner
of the room("Life in a .."). Since there was no electricity, there was no indoor plumbing.
The children had to use an outhouse which was located outside(La Ruffa).
The author visited the school and remembered the overpowering musty smell and
scent of wood that captured the attention of age. The floors creaked as if saying
something out loud. The wooden piano was waiting in the corner of the room for
someone to play with it. She also remembered the feeling of portraying a "giant" while in
the room. Since it was only one room, the furniture was scattered in a confined space so
it looked small. She could picture the teacher in front of the classroom with her long dress
and hair up in a bun instructing the children about history.
"For some unknown reason directors of many rural schools had expressed a
preference for young and unmarried women teachers as late as the era shortly before the
World War II. It was a sort of unwritten law without an explanation^ wanson)." When
hired, the teachers had to follow these rules of conduct: (partial list) Must keep the
classroom neat and clean, ring school bell promptly at 9 a.m.; raise the flag before school
starts; start the fire early enough to have class warm; keep class in session until 4 p.m.;
dresses must be of an appropriate length; bobbed hair is forbidden; and palatable water
must be available in the class each day("Tiny School.."). The teachers did not make that
much money. Actually, they were not guaranteed salaries. Some teachers were paid $20
a month, which depended upon the income of the students' parents. Produce, firewood,
room and board were also paid to the teachers(La Ruffa and Swanson).
The school year for one-room schools were two terms. The summer term lasted
from June to Aug. and the winter term was from Nov. to March. The reason was because
the older children were needed at home for planting and harvesting crops. The day usually
began at 9 a.m. and ran until 4 p.m. Children had chores when going to school. A boy
was in charge of the wood-burning stove and sweeping the floors. Some children made
sure water was passed out several hours during the day. And others were to make sure
the chalkboard was washed(Ruffa).
Grades one through eight were taught in one classroom. The teacher started
instruction with the youngest and then gradually went up to the other grades. Reading,
writing, arithmetic, and spelling were the subjects that were emphasized most(La Ruffa).
"It was extremely important at the turn-of-the-century that students be given a firm
foundation in good penmanship." Cursive writing was the only type formally taught to
scholars("01d School Manual").
Education during that time gave a sense of independence for the students. "They
can be free to move around and get things when needed, not having to wait. They can
learn from each other by listening to the other classes("Life in a..")." The "Pledge of
Allegiance" or chapters from the Bible were read usually daily. The materials that the
children used for notebooks and pens were a little different then today's materials. For
notebooks, students used brown wrapping paper. For pens, they used goose quills and the
ink was made from the bark of maple trees. Most students wrote on chalkboard slates
with double sides for taking notes, writing and figuring(Swanson).
When a student was being bad, for example, talked out loud without permission,
passed around notes, pulled the braids of a girl in the seat ahead, dipped the hair into the
ink wells, or threw ink balls, he/she had to wear a triangular shaped cap that had the words
"Dunce" on the front so the students can see. Wearing that, he/she had to sit in the corner
of the room until the teacher decided when it was time for him/her to join the class
again("01d Stone Manual").
Sharon Fowler had attended a one-room schoolhouse and said she enjoyed herself
because she had freedom in her classroom and just had fun. She said those were the
"good old days." She can remember when some of her classmates got in trouble and had
to sit in the corner for awhile. She loved her teacher, so she probably did not want to
disappoint her by getting in trouble herself. She had a class of about thirty students and
only four in her grade. She also told the author that she remembers one of her classmates,
Jacob, taking her friend's cap, going outside, and throwing it down the toilet in their
outhouse! She was so mad at him for that because it was her friend and it was such a cute
The students' clothes from a one-room schoolhouse were generally hand made
from the families because lack of money. The school did have a policy with the dress; the
girls had to wear dresses that came to just below the knee. "Many of the dresses were
described as being tent-like garments." And the boys wore calf-length or knee pants with
suspenders("01d Stone Manual"). It is interesting that at that time the children had to
wear those clothes and today, children can wear usually what they want unless attending a
During the school day children had to take breaks. Today it is called recess.
"Although the rural schools never had an organized physical education program with a lot
of sit-ups, pushups, etc., the students and the teacher never lacked for exercise. They
organized and even originated all sorts of games including such contests as: Red Light-
Green Light, King of the Hill, Blind man's Bluff, tag football, and marbles and jacks.
Baseball, however, was the number one sport and nearly every school had a ball diamond
somewhere on the grounds(Swanson)."
"The one-room schools had a vital role in every rural community, serving not only
as a house of learning but as a convenient rallying point, a place for picnics, polling places
and in some cases temporary quarters for church services." Spelling bees, debates, annual
Christmas programs, or other special holidays were held there at the schools as
From 1700- 1900s many schools in rural America had just one room. By 1913 up
to half of all American children were educated in 212,000 one-room schools! "But as the
schools gained momentum, the traditional country schools almost disappeared("Tiny
"Nearly all counties of every state in the Midwest are represented with the
schoolhouses still standing as residences or other uses. Illinois has an estimated 3,000 to
3,500 old schools still standing in one form or another(Swanson)."
The rural one-room schools have a rightful spot in the educational history of the
nation. "Much credit is due to the teachers who carried the torch of learning to the farm
children on the back roads. They were a dedicated group of individuals bearing all sorts
of trials and privations and being poorly paid while faithfully carrying on their
The Old Stone School is a great mirror of what it was like back in those times. It
takes the person back in time if he/she had gone to one in the earlier days. Or, it is a good
source of education for the children these days to show how it was then.
Espy, Charles, "History of Public Education in Winnebago County." Rockford, Illinois.
Fowler, Sharon. Interview 8/25/02, 10/22/02.
Jung, Kirsten. Personal experience.
"Life in a Country School." DJG. 2/91. Midway Village archives for the Old Stone
La Ruffa, Mary, and Willhelm, Melissa. History of the Country School. No date.
"Midway Village." Rockford Register Star. 1 1/23/91 lc. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford,
"Old Stone School's Lesson in Living in Another Century." Rockford Register Star . 7/30
3a. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
"School and Hotel Filled with History." Rockford Register Star. 1/25/77 Rockfordiana
Files, Rockford Public Library.
Swanson, Lessie. "Rural One-Room Schools of Mid- America." 1976 no publisher info.
"The Old Stone School Teacher's Manual." Midway Village, Rockford, Illinois. No date
or author available.
"Tiny Schoolhouses Coming Back." Rockford Register Star. 6/6/97 6c.
"A Typical Year in a One-Room School." Rockford Register Star. 6/6/97 6c.
JA yiSIOWBTWCj nXALIZTT)
Vernessa A. Ward
Mr. Scott Fisher
Rock Valley College
Ward - 1
A Vision Being Realized
The sanctuary is conservatively decorated with small bouquets of
carnations, roses, and babies breathe on each pew. There are two gold
candelabras, one on each side of the Communion table. On the table is a floral
centerpiece with white unity candles. It is September 21, 1990, and the bride
is preparing to walk down the long aisle to meet her future husband. Besides
the nervousness, the future bride is thinking about how beautifully the church
is decorated, remembering how much the church has grown, and the struggles
the members of Pilgrim Baptist Church endured.
The membership of Pilgrim Baptist Church overcame racism and bigotry
to become one of the most influential African American Baptist churches in
Rockford. Pilgrim started its meager beginning with twenty- two faithful
members in 1917, and has grown to an active membership of over 500.
The African American community has always believed in God. The
community believes that prayer solves problems. The author's grandparents
grew up in the South during the late 1890s and endured racism and abuse.
They strived for a better life. During this time, they sought comfort through
prayer and song (Rigsby Interview).
Many African Americans migrated from the South to the North. They
thought that the North was integrated and all people were treated equal. To
their surprise, they encountered the same attitude as in the South. They were
treated as second-class citizens in their new environment. Again, prayer was
their motivator (Rigsby).
Ward - 2
In 1917, a small black congregation founded a church called Pilgrim Rest
Baptist Church. This was the first black Baptist church in Rockford. They
worshiped in Grant Madison's home at 812 West Street until 1918. Reverend
T.P. McGee, Pilgrim's first minister, encouraged the church to purchase a new
church edifice at 846 Montague Street (Pilgrim Baptist Church Diamond
Over the next two years, they continued to praise God and witness to the
community. The membership grew and the congregation needed a new church
home. In July 1919, they purchased a one-story church on the corner of West
and Morgan Street from the United Brethren (Pilgrim Baptist Church Diamond
Prior to the members holding service, they had to clean the grounds by
picking up the trash, cutting and
trimming the edges, fixing the front
steps, washing the windows, and dusting
and mopping the inside of the church.
On the third Sunday of July, the
congregation marched to their new
home. They proudly walked down
Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
Montague singing and praising God. The photo courtesy of Beulah Slaughter
men and women wore their very best suits, dresses, and hats (Slaughter
Ward - 3
The flash of a camera startles the bride. The bride and her brother begin
to walk down the aisle smiling at the guest. The bride is thinking of her
childhood minister, Reverend E.H.E. Gilbert, Sr., who was like a father to the
bride. After the bride's father passed, the minister started to watch over the
family by purchasing clothes, Christmas gifts, and helping with homework.
The bride remembers how Reverend Gilbert helped the community, as well as
Reverend Gilbert rejuvenated and encouraged the church to witness to
others and let them know how good God has been. Reverend Gilbert was a
man and a leader with vision. He wanted the church to be the helping hand to
the community, for all people. During the times
when African Americans had few rights, he spoke
out against segregation, and in doing so he
encouraged and motivated others to do the same.
In 1947, the church voted to remove "Rest"
from the name. The membership agreed and
thereafter the church was known as Pilgrim
Baptist Church (Pilgrim Baptist Church The
Wilderness Way 4). The church membership continued to grow and flourished.
Through the years, Pilgrim Baptist Church has encouraged the
community to grow within this society. The Church has always been a
cornerstone for African American families. During the 1950s, Martin Luther
■ lk»lf Ki* ■* «i» *••• *»•-•»»»«
Reverend E.H.E. Gilbert. Sr.
Rockford Register Republic
No name. 4/29/61
Ward - 4
King Jr. organized several desegregation movements within his church in
Alabama; one such movement was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. That
movement led to the Montgomery Bus Company desegregating their bus line in
December of 1956 (MLKonline.com).
In the fall of 1958, Deacon 8b Mrs. Wright (Dorothy) Brown agreed to be
the purchasing agent for Pilgrim Baptist Church and acquired 3.7 acres of land
at 1703 South Central for $12,600 from John & Marie Diggs. Upon approval of
the loan, the Browns deeded the property to the church (Pilgrim Baptist
Church The Wilderness Way 9). Pilgrim Baptist Church rented the house to
Margaret Hollingshed until they finalized the building plans (Hollingshed Jones
The Building Committee
contacted Mr. Charles E. Boettcher, an
architect, to discuss their vision. Mr.
Boettcher presented the architectural
drawings to the Committee in December
of 1959 (Pilgrim Baptist Church ...The
Wilderness Way 10). They were pleased
with the drawings. The structure was
different, large, and overpowering. Everyone was anxious to start the project
but the church had to get a contractor. Mr. Boettcher recommended the
Bakken brothers (Bland Interview).
Proposed drawing of Pilgrim Baptist Church
By Mr. Charles E. Boettcher, Architect
Ward - 5
In January of 1960, O. & Ralph Bakken presented the church's Trustee
Board with a time schedule and cost of $175,000 to build the church. The
Pastor and the Trustee Board called an emergency church meeting to discuss
the Bakken proposal. The Pastor presented the cost to the membership.
Although hesitant, the members agreed to commit (Bland). It was a GO!
In April of 1960, the County issued building permits to the church
("Erect New ..."). The house standing on the property was demolished. The
groundbreaking was held in April 1960 with the Honorable Mayor Ben
Schleicher as their guest ("Haynes, Marketta...").
The church laid the cornerstone in September 1960. Contained in the
cornerstone were twelve items: 1) a vial of
oil, 2) vial of corn, 3) a measure of gold, 4)
a bible carried in the Civil War, 5) a New
Testament, 6) the ashes from the first
mortgage, 7) a copy of "The Messenger, 8)
the church paper, written in 1924, 9) a
copy of the Crusader, 10) a copy of the
1960 membership list of Pilgrim Baptist
Church, 1 1) a picture of members prior to
a communion service in September 1960, and 12) a copy of the cornerstone
laying ceremony (Haynes).
It was Pilgrim's hope that the new church would be completed by
December of 1960. However, the project was not finished until March of 1961
Pilgrim Baptist Church
Photo courtesy of Bertha Rigsby
Ward - 6
After two years of waiting, the church was done. The massive, modern
structure cost $203,000 ("New Church Different ..."). Information on the
reasons for the delay in completion and the cost increase could not be located.
The bride's escort loudly says, "I do" and he kisses the bride and goes to
sit by the bride's mother. Looking at her future husband, she is thinking how
lucky she was to marry the man of her dreams. Reverend Steve Bland is
standing in front of the bride and groom ready to recite the vows and she is
thinking how she would have loved to have Reverend Gilbert perform the
ceremony. However, he is deceased.
Reverend Gilbert encouraged African Americans to set goals to show the
country that they are educated, and that they could use their education and
skills to achieve great things. They took pride in their accomplishments,
endured the consequences of their actions, and never forgot to include the
church when blessings occurred in their lives.
He focused his attention on educating the youth of the church knowing
that the future of Pilgrim depended on the spiritual and secular education of
their youth. An after-school tutoring program was created to assist the youth
in their everyday studies, as well as, teaching them study skills, etiquette,
manners, and communication skills. Eldridge Gilbert, son of Reverend Gilbert,
stated, "The church was a place where the youth could fellowship and learn
with their peers. Parents could send their children to the church and not
worry about their safety" (Gilbert Interview).
Ward - 7
Through years of encouragement, the youth of Pilgrim were graduating
from high school, and many continued on to college. Several of the college
graduates became teachers, nurses, artist, lawyers, doctors, and some
graduated from seminary school. The pastor's love, caring attitude, and
leadership motivated the youth (Gilbert).
On Sunday, April 28, 1961, the community and dignitaries were invited
to attend the church dedication service.
Due to Reverend Gilbert's connection with
the American & National Baptist
Convention, leaders from Chicago,
Detroit, Atlanta, and Memphis attended
the service ("Sunday Rite To..."). The
community and leaders were excited and
overwhelmed by the structure.
When the music stops, Reverend
Bland starts to recite the vows. "Wayne, do you take this woman to be your
wife?" He replied, "Yes I do." It was now the brides turn, "Vernessa, do you
take this man to be your husband?" The bride replies, "Yes I do." Reverend
Bland asks the couple, "What token of love do you have for each other?" They
reply, "A ring." The minister blesses the rings and the bride and groom
exchanged them. Again, the bride thinks of how special it would have been to
have Reverend Gilbert perform the service.
■PiPiiH *** 1
ftiuReverend Steve Bknd, Jr. '" r>
Pilgrim Baptist Church -
Expanding As We Rise
75 th Anniversary - 1917-1992
It was January 1989, after forty- four years of service that Reverend
Gilbert retired. This was a sad time for Pilgrim. Reverend David Steward was
elected to serve as Interim Pastor. He served for eleven months (Pilgrim Baptist
Church . . . Expanding As We Rise 1 3) .
In February 1990, the Church unanimously called Reverend Steve Bland,
Jr. to pastor Pilgrim Baptist Church. Reverend Bland began his pastorate in
March 1990. There was hope that he would follow in Reverend Gilbert's
footsteps. Although Reverend Gilbert and Reverend Bland were different
people, their visions were similar. Reverend Gilbert focused on educating the
youth of Pilgrim. Reverend Bland's vision was broader.
The bride hears the audience clapping and saying, "amen, amen"
Reverend Bland leads the newly married couple to the alter, where it is time for
them to light the unity candle and kneel for prayer. The soloist sings The
Lord's Prayer and it was beautifully sung. The bride remembers...
Reverend Bland's vision is community driven. He stated "Pilgrim has
always been a progressive Church and we are taking the lead to unite different
religions, find homes for the homeless, take care of the elderly, and the
education of our children." He said "Pilgrim has seen an increase in
membership. There are young men accepting God's call and becoming an
active force in the church. Our children are actively involved in the ministry.
Our vision is alive and well (Bland)."
It was important to this writer to know if the congregation supported the
pastor's vision. A vision cannot be realized without the support of its
participants. The question to each interviewee was simple: "What is the
Church's vision?" Dr. Steele replied "The pastor's vision is to meet the needs of
the community from cradle to death. It is a vision that entails building
schools, shopping centers, grocery stores, playgrounds, nursing homes, and a
retirement village (Steele Interview)."
After interviewing other members and with this writer having a personal
experience with the growth of Pilgrim Baptist Church, it was unanimous that
each understood and supported the direction in which the church was headed.
The vision is being realized through the creation of new ministries and
fundraising. A few of the Ministries are: 1) A Support Group, which was
designed to help those community persons who are recovering from an
addiction; 2) The Wellness Ministry deals with health issues (i.e. blood
pressure, nutrition, exercise, etc.); and 3) Youth Advisory Ministry which works
closely with the Pastor to develop educational programs for the youth. The
Church has created a foundation called "Pilgrim Village". This foundation is to
assist Pilgrim, through fundraising efforts, reaching the final stages of its vision
to build schools, shopping center, nursing and retirement homes. The vision is
The minister says, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you
to Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Ward." They are really married and in love. As they walk
down the steps to meet their guests the groom asks, "Were you thinking about
Reverend Gilbert?" The bride replies, "Yes." She thinks, "He remembered the
Ward - 10
impact that Reverend Gilbert had on her life." She loves her husband even
more for asking the question.
It is four o'clock in the afternoon; the bride and groom are exiting the
church to their awaiting horse-driven white carriage, decorated with ribbons,
bows, a JUST MARRIED sign, and evergreen surrounding the frame. The
guests throw rice at the couple as they enter the carriage. As the carriage
starts to move the bride is thinking of all the history and the love she
experienced at church. The bride and groom are starting a new life together on
a solid foundation that has been blessed by God.
As the carriage proceeds to circle the church the bride is looking at the
large, white aluminum sided, two-and-a-half story building. The large mosaic
of Jesus Carrying the Cross is adorned on its side and underneath is the
church name in black lettering. There is a large lighted maroon bulletin board;
at the top, there is a cross with a dove silhouette.
The church is surrounding by floodlights and motion detectors. Around
the front of the building, various sized evergreen bushes are lined in front of
the basement windows, as if they are guarding the place. In fact, there are
trees surrounding the entire property.
The Church has always been a place of peace, a shoulder to cry on when
times are hard, and to receive words of encouragement. Pilgrim Baptist
Church has always been a special part of the bride's life. The bride grew up in
the church and she participated in its growth. Reverend Gilbert taught her
self-pride, to never be afraid of a challenge, to love the Lord, and to strive to be
Ward - 1 1
higher and better. Reverend Bland taught her assertiveness, to be aggressive,
and to always honor the Lord. As one looks back on the two ministers who
have lead Pilgrim Baptist Church with their visions, the writer would have to
say that the message has changed but the vision remains the same. And yes, if
the reader is wondering the bride is the writer.
Ward - 12
Bland, Jr., Reverend Steve. Personal Interview. 28 September 2002.
Carson, Clayborne, "King's Biography, http: / /www.mlkonline.com/ bio.html
3 October 2002.
"Erect New Church Here". Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Archives.
Rockford Public Library. 9 April 60.
Gilbert, E.H.E. Personal Interview. 21 October 2002.
Haynes, Marketa. "Pilgrim Baptist Church (student paper)." Rockfordiana
Archives. Rockford Public Library. Jul-Aug 1967.
Hollingshed Jones, Brenda. Personal Interview. 15 September 2002.
"New Church Different in Appearance, Layout". Rockford Register Republic.
Rockfordiana Archives. Rockford Public Library. 24 March 6 1 .
Old Pilgrim Church with Members. Photo courtesy of Beulah Slaughter. July
Pilgrim Baptist Church. Diamond Jubilee. Anniversary Booklet 1917-1977.
Pilgrim Baptist Church. Expanding As We Rise. 75 th Anniversary Booklet
Pilgrim Baptist Church. The Wilderness Way. 40 th Anniversary Booklet 1944-
Rigsby, Bertha. Personal Interview. 30 September 2002.
Slaughter, Beulah. Personal Interview. 1 October 2002.
Steele, Dr. Vinest. Personal Interview. 21 October 2002.
Ward - 13
"Sunday Rite To Dedicate New Church". Rockford Register Republic.
Rockfordiana Archives. Rockford Public Library. 29 April 61.
Rock Valley College
English Composition I
25 November 2002
Reed-Chatwood Industrial Campus
The Reed-Chatwood Industrial Complex reflects the industrial nature that
Rocktord was once very well known tor. One of the first buildings to be erected in the
area, its simple but massive construction stands tribute to the iarge amount ol
manufactured goods once produced in the area. Today, however, the building stands in a
state of disrepair, neglected due to absentee landlords and financial controversy. Ail
nineteen buildings stand in a rough side of town.
Viewing the complex from Loomis Street, the overwhelming structure of the
complex tills the windshield. At the same time the observer reels both in awe of the size
of the buildings, and an eerie sort of depression for their condition. The entirety of the
city biock between Loomis and Montague Street, 1220 Rock Street, is taken up by one
building that housed the majority of the tenants in the late twentieth century. This mighty
construction of brick and steel sits in siience like an old warrior who age has caught up
to. Despite its broken appearance, one can easily picture the greatness it must have once
Ihe 1220 Rock Street of reality stands in stark contrast to the 1220 Rock Street of
the imagination, it does not take much to turn back the clocks and imagine the complex
in the early twentieth century. One can aimost feel the heat from the sun baking down on
the concrete of the complex. If one iistens close enough, the distinctly unnatural sounds
of the machines that populate the spacious open tloors of the structure can still be heard,
some high pitched shrieks and low grinding growls. Almost as abundant as machine
noise is the noise of the workers, laughing and joking while on break; shouting directions
and requests at each other while on the job. The mind easily paints the picture of steam
Serak - Page 2
rising out of the chimney and trams pulling into the depot built into the back of the
building, tilling up with loads ot goods, and blowing their shnli whistle as they depart in
the knowledge that they'll be back in a tew weeks to pick up another load. The train
passes a group ot small children playing stick-ball and catching grasshoppers in the vast
clearings ot the campus, heading out into the rural areas surrounding early Rocktbrd.
Just as quickly as the imagination came, reality returns. The brick that was once
bright red now emits a dull crimson hue. The landscape is covered over with now
cracking cement, where weeds grow long in the faults of the deteriorated parking lot.
The windows are now dulled with the brown dust and gravel that covers the street. What
was once a bustling workplace is now barren and lonely, the only sound the low howling
of a seemingly constant yet gentle wind, occasionally interrupted by the crackling of an
old plastic shopping bag in the streets.
Walking around the building is almost haunting. Greeting visitors in the front of
the building is a set of doors. Peering into the windows shows a dark lobby, offices, iong
hallways, all of which appear to have been left abruptly. Papers on bulletin boards, pen
holders on desks, and signs from previous tenants hanging dutifully on the walis aimost
giving the illusion that the building is waiting eternally tor it's lively population of
workers to come back.
Proceeding to the southern tip of the building, a iook upwards shows spidery halt-
skeletons of catwalks shooting up the building like ivy that has grown unchecked
throughout the years of neglect. The buildup of dust earned in the omnipresent winds
leaves dark stains on the walls of the structure. Any attempt to walk around to the back
Serak - Page 3
of the building is quashed by a rusting chest-high chain-link fence, behind which vast
expanses of parking lots sit quietly.
Heading back to the north end ot the building, gravel on the sidewalk producing a
crunching footstep, the simple design stands in stark contrast to the curves and sharp
wedges of the more modern Zeke Giorgi and National City buildings a mile or two to the
north. The building at 1220 Rock Street is quite simply a rectangle; it is composed
almost entirely oi ninety-degree angies, showing a design that tbcused more on utility
and less on cosmetics. The vast clusters ot windows on the side ot the buildings teli the
story ot long, wide open rooms in the building, as was appropriate ot a building with an
the stroii back to the car can leave one depressed about the state the building, and
the rest ot the complex in general. However, a moment's reflection would bring about
the idea that the greatness or the structure lies not only in what it once was, but aiso in
what it couid be in the future. There is a multitude of great plans tor the area since the
city purchased the complex. Ail it wouid take would be one good idea to breathe lite
back into the hibernating Reed-Chatwood complex.
Ground was first broken tor the Reed-Chatwood Industrial Complex in 1904.
Throughout the years, more buildings were added to increase the production capacity of
the site, until at the time of its being put up tor auction in 2001 the campus totaled 19
buildings and 26 acres of land (Sweeney). The construction of the facilities were a direct
response to the booming manufacturing industry in Rocktbrd at the time.
the first decade of the twentieth century brought a lot of big construction projects
to the Rocktbrd area, in 1903, the city saw the construction of the Rocktbrd Public
Serak - Page 4
Library on State and Wyman street, which stands to this day one of the most important
and well-known buildings in the city [Rockford History 1901-1941). A year later, in
1904, the manufacturing company Greeniee Bros. & Co. moved it's operations to
Rockford. That same year also saw Rockfbrd's first skyscraper erected on the corner of
State and Wyman. This store, built by Andrew Ashton, was six stones high and a first in
the area (Rockford History 1901-1941).
Elsewhere in the nation, labor disputes were beginning to boil up over treatment
of workers, fn 1905, fndustnal Workers of the World was founded. Based out of
Chicago, the Wobblies"', as they were calied, advocated strikes and sabotage over
collective bargaining. This came three years after the United Mine Workers led their
five-month coal strike that crippled the nation, it was the beginning of a new time in the
industrial world, where workers rights were just beginning to be observed. These most
certainly were some of the many issues on the mind of Henry Ford when he opened the
first Ford assembly line a year before the first building of the Reed-Chatwood complex
was put up (History of the World Timeline").
The United States was not the only area of the world seeing disputes at the time.
In 1903, the Panamanians threw a US-backed revolt against Columbian rule, succeeding
and putting into place the events that would lead to the construction of the Panama Canal.
In 1907, the US saw a record 1.29 million immigrants enter the country, many of which
went to work in blue collar manufacturing facilities like the Reed-Chatwood Complex. A
year later, however, measures to control unchecked immigration were put into place with
The Gentlemen's Agreement, in which Japan denied passports to their citizens who
wished to seek labor jobs in the United States (History of the World Timeline").
Serak - Page 5
Ail ot these factors contributed to the dynamic, ever-changing industrial climate
that the Reed-Chatwood Industrial Complex was conceptualized, and eventually built, in.
The site was begun as an effort by the Barbar-Coleman company, a local textile
manufacturer. The company decided that the land on the river at what would become
Rock Street would be the perfect home to an industrial park. In 1903, the first building
sat atop this newly acquired land ("Reed Chatwood Property for Sale").
The complex made room for expansion in Rockfbrd's then booming
manufacturing industry. Construction wasn't easy, however, because the buildings were
all made entirely of steei reinforced concrete. The large, bulky buildings had to support
the weight of large amounts of textile manufacturing machinery. This made for a slow,
difficult construction process. The first building was began in 1903, however
construction wasn't completed until 1907. However, due to the rigidity of the
construction, the buildings still stand strong today (Reed Chatwood Property for Sale")
The building of the Reed-Chatwood industrial complex excited the Rockfbrd
community. It represented a growth in economy and many new jobs for the people, tor
many years the buildings stood as a landmark on Rockfbrd's south side. Even after their
sale to Reed-Chatwood, aiso a textile manufacturer now owned by West Point Foundry,
in the 1980s, they continued to provide jobs and production to the Rockfbrd economy.
Despite their current state of disrepair, Rockfbrd leadership is intent that the complex will
continue to contribute to Rockfbrd well into the future.
The oldest surviving building in the complex dates to 1907. With almost one
hundred years of history in between the days of construction and today, much about the
area has changed, in that same respect, much has also remained the same. The Reed-
Serak - Page 6
Chatwood Complex has changed structurally very little, despite the dynamic changes to
the surrounding area.
The lack of vanity was more than made up tor in function. To this day, the
outside or the structures remains very much the same as it did at the time or construction,
instead or attempting to dress them up, the buildings were ieft, tor the most part, to serve
their purpose. The long, open spaces were allocated to the textile manufacturing
equipment. A small railroad actually runs through the lower ievel or the building at 1220
Rock Street, allowing raw materials to be delivered from anywhere, right to the complex.
The interior, on the other hand, is somewhat of a different story. Upon entering
the facility, one is confronted with an array of modern conveniences. Immediately past
the guard stand sits a break room lined wall to wail with vending machines. A quick
walk down the hall presents one with a senes of escalators climbing to the third tloor,
which at the time ofinstaliation was the first and only escalator in the Rocktbrd area.
Obviously, such conveniences weren't even thought of during the original construction of
the complex. More hkeiy, the items were added as the purpose of the buildings began to
broaden, from just housing manutactunng equipment to the offering of office space for
small and medium-sized businesses. Many, including SuppiyCore/Protechnical Products,
a procurement and supply-chain management company, and the local offices of the
NAACP, were drawn ro the flexibility of the complex, as well as its two-dollar per-
square-foot price tag (Jamont).
Another use never dreamed about by the creators was the use of the facilities by
technical businesses. Several web-based companies, technology companies, and even an
Rock River Internet, an Internet Service Provider now running out of the Rockford Trust
Serak - Page 7
Building, used the grounds tor their operations, They found the long open rooms well
suited to housing computers and communications equipment. Because or the low cost of
the space, more money could be put into renovations and other expenses necessary to
build a data center, such as a raised-tloor tor running cables, enhanced HVAC, and
appropriate physical security and locking mechanisms. As a matter of tact, the third tloor
housed a large data center once used by Barbar-Coleman tor its large mainframe
computers. The raised tloor and extensive climate control systems give testament to the
versatility of the buildings as they adapted to a changing world.
Throughout the years of use, the neighborhood surrounding the complex has
degraded. Aside from what can be gained from basic observation, which reveals a
shabby neighborhood lined with run-down bars and abandoned storefronts, evidence of
enhanced security can be seen in interotfice memorandums from the owners of the
complex to tenants. One memo, dated December 8 Ul 1 995 and sent to all Reed-Chatwood
supervisors and tenants, discusses an in-depth protocol tor obtaining access to the site otf
work hours, including notifying guards ahead of time of one's arrival. The same
memorandum goes on to detail an extensive patrolling shift tor the guards, and even
alludes to previous issues with unauthorized access to the sites.
One can also gather an idea of the people walking the streets from the businesses
nearby. Several low-key bars are in the area, as well as a Hells Angels Clubhouse less
than a block trom 1220 Rock Street. That is not to make any crude generalizations of
those who patron such businesses, but it can easily said that trouble is often tbund at such
locations, and many such locations are in the area. The bar's late-night hours draw a
Serak - Page 8
crowd of derelict aicohohcs that make any evening or nighttime stroiis of the
neighborhood complex hair-raising at best, and most definitely not tor the feint of heart.
Another observation that may take some by surprise is the lack of well-known
chain stores in the area. A couple of miles to the north is a different story, but that
general area has seen a migration of chain-based businesses and restaurants to the east,
where much more explosive growth can be seen as Rocktbrd's border races to collide
with western Belvidere. This surge of movement left many less well-known stores and
abandoned buildings in its wake, contributing to the slum-like appearance of the area.
Before the company of Reed-Chatwood sold the facilities to itself, in an
accounting effort to change the assets of Reed-Chatwood, it wouid seem that Reed-
Chatwood itself played a much larger role in the day to day affairs of the complex, as
opposed to the last years of the complex, when Reed-Chatwood was only heard in the
name of the complex. This contrast can be seen when looking through old memos sent
from officials in the company of Reed-Chatwood, detailing day to day operational issues
such as observing posted speed limits in the facilities ( 'Speed Limit and Traffic Flow",
Bartscher) or having children onsite (Children on Premises"). There was even a
periodical newsletter, entitled Rock Street Journal, sent to tenants and employees of
Reed-Chatwood. The periodical discussed business deals both past and future, employee
news, and even welcomed new employees. No such journal existed around the turn of
the twenty-first century, when this writer worked in the facility.
The facility now stands silently, as it resting from its earlier years of hard work.
However, recent scandals regarding the ownership of the facility, as well as a slumping
economy, have left the buildings mothballed and awaiting a new, as of yet undefined,
Serak - Page 9
purpose. The recent slumping in the performance of technical businesses, which made up
many ot the complex's last tenants, left the complex operating in debt. The previous
owners or the complex let this debt accumulate tor years, until the complex was hundreds
or thousands or dollars in debt tor utilities and other bills that accrued, which they were
supposed to be paying tor the tenants. Once the creditors calied in the debts, the lack of
funds that the current owner was suffering forced the closure and sale of the complex, as
well as the cutting oft of all power and other utilities. With industry sagging as much as
the technical world, the complex is ieft without use, at least in the forms it was deployed
in earlier. Ouite simply, the world around Reed-Chatwood changed. Perhaps the
complex can show the flexibility that the world itself has shown, and adapt for a new
purpose. If so, it would be a welcome change, because although structurally Reed-
Chatwood has changed very little, its neighborhood and the worid surrounding it are
Acquired by the taxpayers in 2002, the city of Rockford now has this large
chunk of land and facility to put to good use. The Reed-Chatwood complex represents a
slew of opportunities for the city of Rockford waiting oniy on a pian to develop.
for instance, the old factory buildings could be put to great use as loft apartments
and condominiums. In doing so, one provides a convenient and luxurious urban
residence for those who work in the city's downtown. In addition to that, it draws
population, and thus commerce, back towards downtown and away from the eastern
sprawl that's in effect today.
The complex also sits in an excellent position to serve as an urban campus for
Rock Valley College. The location of the complex provides convenient access for more
underprivileged neighborhoods where people may not be able to attend class across town.
Those who work in the downtown area can utilize the same convenience. Without a
doubt, more people would pursue further education if they could do so on their lunch
break and not miss any work or time with their families. The acquisition of such a large
amount of space would also greatly enhance the capacity of classes the college could
hold, providing a greater range of furthered learning opportunities to the population.
Another option would be to allow the grounds to be developed by the Rockford
Park District. At the very least, it would add cosmetic appeal to an area that many
consider to be something of an eyesore. Instead, Rockford would have a peaceful,
appealing outdoor area that could be enjoyed by joggers and studying students alike.
Indeed, lining the river that bisects this city with parks and trails would be something
Rockford could be well known for in the surrounding areas.
These three ideas represent a tew of the many possibilities the complex has to
offer. In tact, there is no reason why all three and even more of these ideas could coexist
simultaneously. The complex certainly has more than enough room to offer. Such a
bustling area so well stocked with reasons to make the drive are most certainly what our
dying downtown needs.
The Reed-Chatwood Industrial Complex has a history that dates tar back into
Rockford *s past. It has been instrumental in the development of the local economy. At a
time when the future uses of the complex arenT known, we can rest assured that however
utilized, it will continue its great benefit to the local area.
Serak - Page 1 1
'Bag Lady is Textile Firms Incentive Program", Rockford Register Star 8 Feb. 1985: 1 A
Bartscher, Jerry. "Speed Limit and Traffic Flow". Memorandum to all tenants. 21
Bartscher, Jerry. 'Children on Premises". Memorandum to ail tenants. Revision. 18
July 1995. Original: 3 September 1991.
Bartscher, Jerry. "Alter Hours Hntry Into Facility". Memorandum to ail Reed-Chatwood
Supervisors and Tenants. Revision. 8 December 1995.
Dummer, Cliff. Rock Street Journal July/ August 1996
Jamont, Jon. Personal interview. 8 November 2002.
"History or the World Timeline" Historychannel.com 3 Oct. 2002
"Rockford History 1901-1941" rockfordiliinois.com 3 Oct. 2002
"Reed Chatwood Complex Sold", Rockford Register Star 30 Apr. 1999: ID
'Reed Chatwood From Northwest Side", Photo by Scott Fisher, Rock Valley College
"Reed-Chatwood from West Side", Photo by Scott Fisher, Rock Vaiiey College
"Reed-Chatwood Property For Saie", Rockford Register Star 19 Mar. 1999: 5 A
Sweeny, Chuck "Reed Chatwood Purchase signals big attitude change". Rockford
Register Star . No Date Given.
The Rising of Riverview Ice House
English Composition, Rock Valley
November 25, 2002
Riverview Ice House
The building of Riverview Ice House was not easy. In the Rock River Valley, the
only place to skate was at the Wagon Wheel in Rockton, Illinois. During this time the
Wagon Wheel had a variety of up and coming skater. In 1972, a Citizens Committee
board headed by Alden Orput submitted a lengthy report recommending the construction
of an ice rink ("Rockford gets" NP). That was just the beginning of a long struggle that
would eventually be The Riverview Ice House.
It was not as easy as they thought it would be. After getting approval from the
Aldermen, The Park District's Board of Commissioners, Rockford City Council and the
City of Rockford's Finance Committee, they thought the construction was on its way.
Construction did begin, but it did not begin in its original location, or at the original price,
or at the expected date ("Park" NP).
The Wagon Wheel opened its ice skating rink in 1958. The Ice Skating facility
was called the Ice Palace. It were future professional skaters like Janet Lynn and Scott
Hamilton trained. It began with one sheet of ice, and then it expanded to two sheets.
Slavka Kahout, a professional skater and teacher was the manager. It had hockey teams
like the Wagon Wheel Cardinals, and the Rockton Wheels. After, the new ownership of
the Wagon Wheel in 1974, and the roof collapsing in 1979, it was the end of the Ice
Palace by 1981 ("Memories" NP). The ending of the Ice Palace was the beginning of
Riverview Ice House.
In 1972, The Rockford Figure Skating Club, and The Rock Valley Hockey
Association approached Webbs Norman about the need for an ice facility in Rockford
(Norman Interview). After that, he requested a feasibility report. On August 7, 1972, the
Citizens Advisory Committee, chaired by Howard Walgren and Alden Orput, prepared a
lengthy, comprehensive report. The conclusion of the well researched report resulted in
the approval by The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners, to undertake the
project of building an indoor ice rink ("Rockford gets" NP).
The proposed location for the ice facility was just southwest of Elliot Golf Course
on Mill Road. The facility was going to include both an 85 by 200-foot official-sized
hockey rink and a 60 by 90-foot studio rink for figure skating ("Rockford Janesville"
NP). On a Wednesday afternoon about 4:45 PM, John Olson walked into Webbs
Normans office and suggested that the "old City Yards be the home of the new ice rink".
He felt that the Mill Street location would be too far out (Norman Interview). It was also
thought that by placing the rink downtown it would "create a drawing card for the area,
enhancing the Cities urban renewal efforts (Norman Interview).
On Tuesday September 25, 1973, The Rockford Park District Board of
Commissioners gave the Park District the okay to begin the construction of the indoor ice
facility, as long as The Rockford City Council agreed to contribute $200,000 toward the
project. On Monday October 1, 197, the Rockford City Council voted to donate
riverfront city land and pay $200,000 ("Park"3). The additional $1 .45 million would be
paid for with bonds that the Rockford Park District would sell. Before and during the
construction, additional costs started pouring out of the woodwork. There was the
remaining $27,000 that was still owed on the mortgage of the Ballard building that
housed the Pine Tree Pistol Club. Scandroli construction Co, was owed $150,000,00;
$32, 455 was needed for a road on the site, $40,000 to the urban renewal Property,
$14,520 for concrete islands for landscape planting, $7, 500 for sidewalks, $32,000 to
pave the rink parking lot, $2,500 to landscape the parking lot and $12, 000 to light the
parking lot. Zoning and relocating businesses expenses raised the cost of the project to
After reaching agreements on some of the financial circumstances surrounding the
rink, it was time to decide who would actually design and build the rink. Seventeen
architectural firms submitted proposals on their ability to complete this project. After
going over their qualifications, twelve were chosen for a personal interview. At the
conclusion of interviewing these candidates on Wednesday, October 10, 1974, Boettcher
& Simmon were hired by the Rockford Park District to design and build the ice rink
The groundbreaking ceremony was set for December of 1973, but the actual
ceremony did not take place until March of 1974. The construction was scheduled to be
completed by the summer of 1975. The location of the building was moved from its
original location a little to the north, and placed on an angle. The entrance to the building
was moved from one side of the building, to the southeast side of the building, closer to
the Rock River.
The groundbreaking ceremony consisted of naming of the rink. The name was
chosen from a contest. The winners' names were Patricia Hennigan and Jim Beattie.
Patricia chose the name Riverview Ice Arena, and Jim picked the Ice House portion. The
two names were combined and Riverview Ice House was chosen. The two winners
would be the first to skate when the rink was completed; they also received a years' free
pass to the facility. The Dinky Rink was suggested by James Hogfeldt, and the Cooler by
Trudy Bunge. They both received honorable mentions for their thoughts.
The Mayor "cited the ice rink as an example of intergovermental cooperation, and
proof that metro-style government can exist" ("Riverview" NP). Once the
groundbreaking events were over, it was time for the cashing in of the bonds. To the
Park District's surprise, the bonds were rejected. On June 20, 1974 Kampen, Wauterlek
& Brown, Inc felt that the feasibility report submitted reflected inaccurate findings. It
was suggested that general obligation bonds be used. They would be repaid through tax
funds, rather than money made by the rink ("Study NP). The Rockford Park District
began working with four different banks on August 6, 1974 to get the rink paid for. With
the new plan set into motion, they would receive money from Continental Illinois Bank,
American National Bank, and City National Bank. The Park District received financial
assistance from the City of Rockford, and The Board Of Education ("Rink" NP).
With the financial struggles almost behind them, the big day had arrived. On July
4, 1975 Mayor Robert McGraw announced the opening of The Riverview Ice House.
Volunteers had worked hard the days before helping to get everything ready for opening
day. After the dedication ceremony and program that featured many up and coming
skaters, it was time for the public to hit the ice. With Patricia Hennigan, and Jim Beattie
leading the way, over two thousand people skated for free that day (Riverview NP).
Since it opened over 27 years ago, Riverview Ice House has changed prices,
programs, staff, management, and expanded. The Carlson Ice Arena on E. Riverside
opened in 1999. Located in different areas, Riverview and Carlson are considered one
facility of the Rockford Park District (Thomas).
The public skate times and cost have changed through the years. It is very hard to
know the exact time for public skates in the months to come. The hours change
according to the events, and programs that are scheduled for that month (Thomas). The
cost for the public skate in 1975, when Riverview opened, was $1.00 for adults and $.50
for children ("Rockford", NP). In 1981, the cost for skating was $1.25, and skate rental
was $.75. By 1986, the public skate was $2.00 and $.75 for skate rental. The summer of
1997 a weekday public skate was $3.00 and weekend and holidays was $3.25. Skate
rental was $1.75 and children 4 and under were free ("Public"). At the present time, the
cost for two or more hours of public skate is $4. for a Rockford resident and $4.50, for a
non-resident. Children 4 and under are free. A one-hour public skate cost $2.00, skate
rental and children four and under is the same as two-hour publics ("Public").
Through the years, many programs have been established at the Riverview Ice
House (Dimke Interview). Very few were able to stand the test of time. Figure skating
and hockey have been around since the facility opened. Unfortunately, the disagreements
between figure skating clubs and hockey clubs formed in 1975 (Norman Interview). As
of today, they still have not reached an agreement on equal ice time for each other. In the
1 970s there were figure skating programs and hockey programs. Currently, those
programs have been divided and broken up into different programs. The Northern Illinois
Skating Club and The Figure Skating Club of Rockford are two organizations that
support figure skating. The Figure Skating Club has been around since before Riverview
opened. Learn- to- Skate classes and freestyles are offered through the Park District at
both the Ice facilities. The Forest City Hockey League, as it is known today, was called
the In House Hockey League when Riverview opened. The Rockford Hockey Club
supports the traveling hockey league (Kirkpatrick interview).
In 1 975 when Riverview Ice House opened, Carol Nitti was the first Director of
the figure skating programs. In 2002 she is now Carol Ueck, and teaches the young and
the old how to skate. She is a professional ice skating instructor. She is the only
employee that has been here since the doors opened on July 4, 1975 (Ueck Interview).
Bob Kirkpatrick was the first manager of the facility in 1975. Over the years
Riverview Ice House has seen many different managers. In 1 976 Rich Gato was
manager; in 1 978 Don Lumley became the manager; then in 1 980 Tom Dufalut stepped
in as manger (Kirkpatrick Interview). In the early 1980s, Tim Dimke was manager
(Dimke Interview), followed by mangers Rich Gadow, Julie Elliot, and Ann Thompson
In 1995, The Friends of Riverview, a volunteer support group, wanted another ice
facility built. The Park District invested in the project. Kurt Carlson donated the land.
The Friends of Riverview agreed whey would pay $ 1 million dollars towards the project.
The facility opened in 1999, but the financial fight began in 1997. The Friends of
Riverview were not able to come up with agreed upon $1 million dollars ("Ice Rink
Drive Short of Funds" NP). It was just like the bonds that were not approved in 1975
causing a financial frenzy. When less then six months old Riverview Ice House had over
35,000 visitors ("Riverview" NP). Twenty-seven years later, and another facility added,
the Ice facilities of the Rockford Park District, have had more than 51, 000 visitors
The Rockford Park District started out over 27 years ago with Riverview Ice
House. It was the first Ice Arena in Rockford, Illinois; it started out with obstacles to
overcome even before the doors opened in 1975. After the doors opened in 1975
Riverview Ice House continued to have obstacles to overcome. Management and
employees changed often. Many different programs were created. Unfortunately, only a
few are still around today (Dimke Interview). The hockey programs and figure skating
programs have both been around since the beginning. They still cannot come together,
and see eye to eye on working together. The pricing, programs and mangers have
changed, but the foundation on which it was built has not.
" Boettcher's Firm to Build Ice Rink", Rockford Register Star , October 11, 1973
Rockfordiana file, Rockford Public Library
Dimke, Tim, Chief Operating Officer Rockford Park District, Personal Interview,
October 18, 2002.
"Ice Rink Cost Increases Again", Rockford Register Star, January 1, 1975,
Rockfordiana file, Rockford Public Library
Kirkpatrick, Robert, first manager of Riverview Icehouse. Personal Interview
"Memories" Talcott Library
"Park Board OKS Ice Rink", September 26, 1973. Rockford Register Star ,
Rockfordiana file, Rockford Public Library
" Public Skate Calendars ", Riverview Ice House Brochure.
"Rink Work Puts Park District in Bind", July 24, 1974. Rockford Register Star ,
Rockfordiana file, Rockford Public Library
"Riverview Ice House Does a Booming Business", Rockford Register Star ,
December 30, 1975, Rockfordiana file, Rockford Public Library.
"Rockford gets Indoor Ice Rink", June 13, 1973. Rockford Register Star,
Rockfordiana file, Rockford Public Library.
"Rockford, Janesville Ice Rinks Compared", Rockford Register Star, February 6,
1975. Rockfordianna file, Rockford Public Library.
"Study Ice Rink Bonds are Rejected Challenged", June 20, 1974, Rockford Park
District Register Star , Rockfordiana file Rockford Public Library.
Thomas, Toni, Personal experience as an employee 1 997-present.
Ueck, Carol, Personal Interview October 9, 2002
Norman, Webbs, Executive Director Rockford Park District, Personal Interview
■ I ■
The Birth, Change, and Men of Fire Station #6
English Composition, Rock Valley College
English 101 NA-1
26 November 2002
The West Siders
With the importance of fire stations to the Rockford area, Fire Station #6 has
stood the test of time by protecting the West Side for 95 years. It has gone through many
changes and firemen since its creation in 1907, but it still serves the same purpose, to
protect and serve the West Side.
The birth of Fire Station #6 started in late 1906. Shortly after the New Year in
1907, Station #6 was completed (George pg.3 1 ). The station was positioned at 1634 Elm
St. with its entrance facing north bound. One of the main reasons behind Station #6's
creation was the rising population on the West Side (Cancelose Interview). With new
immigrants arriving in Rockford daily, the West Side was popular spot for new settlers.
Before its conception there were some influential people who pushed for another
station which would eventually become Station #6. Thomas Blake, who was the captain
of Station #3, was very eager about the station and stated "The building is the best and
most substantial and best appointed building the city has got for the use which it was
intended for, and the city is very fortunate in securing a building like this at the price
contracted for" (George pg.31). Also, the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners
worked with the City Council and pushed for another station to effectively cover more of
an area, especially on the West Side and the business district of Rockford (George pg.31).
The construction of Fire Station #6 was completed with no complications (George
pg.32). The appearance of the station was a two-story, reddish/brown brick building,
with two giant doors in front waiting to swing open at a moment's notice. Finished in
only a few months, the City got a bargain on the new station site, which was $5,862.00
(George pg.3 1). The cost of the equipment and furniture was $1,890.00, and the
assembly of the plumbing and heating cost a total of $1,869.86 (George pg.32).
Throughout the years there were many renovations, mainly to keep up with the
other fire stations and the economy. In 1931, the station's 1 st renovation was their
plumbing systems (City Hall). Then, in 1952, they upgraded their electrical system
because it was old and frail (City Hall).
Eventually in 1976, 69 years after its creation, Station #6 made a move to a new
location at 3329 W. State St. (Cavanagh Interview). The new station was more
accessible than the old one, because it sat on a well traveled street. Construction of both
sites was also different. The old station was a two story brick building with a
reddish/brown color to it, and the newer station was a one story brick building with a
yellowish/tan color. Although appearance wise there were many differences, both
stations still served the same purpose, to protect the West Side.
Years have come and gone at Station #6, but what sets this station apart from the
others is its people. The current Lutenant at the newer station is Denny Cavanagh.
Denny explained that "Fireman have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world," and
that "firemen today are trained in many different areas of expertise: Confined space
rescue, hazardous materials, high angle rescue, water rescue, vehicle rescue, and many
more" (Cavanagh Interview).
Before the move to W. State St., Station #6 was run by a Captain named Tom
Cancelose (Cancelose Interview). Tom worked as the Captain at #6 till its move in 1976,
and then transferred over to Station #4 (Cancelose Interview). Tom served as a firemen
for 25 years and talked about the changes throughout those years (Cancelose Interview).
He told a story about "How I had saved Manley Melvin's life, who was a City Alderman
at the time, by administering CPR which my crew and I only learn three months prior to
this incident" (Cancelose Interview). These are just two of the many great firefighters
who have come out of Station #6.
Once Station #6 made its move to a new location, the old building sat uninhabited
for quiet some time. Sometime around the 1980s, it was turned into a lodge called the St.
Matthew Mosonic Lodge which was used as a recreational and meeting place (City Hall).
The lodge remained there until its demolition sometime in the 1990's to make way for the
Ellis Arts Academy.
In conclusion, Rockford's Fire Station #6 is an important reminder of why fire
stations are so vital to our community. What makes Station #6 stand out is their crew,
like Denny Cavanagh, Tom Cancelose, and many others. Since its conception in 1907 it
has stood the test of time lasting an amazing 95 years. This is why it is considered a
"local important site."
Cancelose, Tom. Personal Interview. 21 October 2002.
Cavanagh, Danny. Personal Interview. 19 October 2002.
City Hall Building. Copied documents. Rockford, Illinois. 2002.
George, James and Janet. Forest City Firelog. Rockford, Illinois. 1982. 31-32.
126, SWTD^ ^ Fp
^ ^ Vc £*
Rock River Elementary School:
Ninety-one Years in the Making
English Composition, Rock Valley College
26 November 2002
English 101, Section NC
Rock River Elementary School:
Ninety-one Years in the Making
By the early 1900s, the life of the one-room schoolhouse was at an end. In 1883,
Illinois passed the state's first attendance law, which required all children between the
ages of 8 and 14 to attend school (Espy 9). With the increase of students came the
demand for more space to hold classes. The old one-room schoolhouses gave way to the
bigger school buildings with many classrooms. As the years went on, the volume of
students increased and the number of schools being built grew to accommodate that
volume. Rock River Elementary was one of those schools that came to life those many
The area of Kishwaukee Road and Harrison Avenue today is a mixture of residential
and industrial with a couple of churches thrown in for good measure. Ninety-two years
ago, both were dirt roads with wide-open fields all around. This area was considered part
of the New Milford Township and therefore outside the city limits. Residential homes and
farms lined these streets and the people who lived here supported the value of education
(Winnebago County Schools).
In 191 1, William H. Taft was the president of the United States. The Spanish-
American War had been over for twelve years and World War I was three years away
("Year by Year"). Locally, Rockford and the surrounding areas were growing. Industries
were forming to manufacture farm equipment, knitting machines, furniture and more
(Monahan 142). Two Curtiss Model D biplanes were the first "powered" aircraft to land
in Rockford. The Illinois Central Railroad completed the famous "Industrial Beltline",
part of which runs past Rock River School (Heck 121). Schools had added physical
education and manual training (home economics) classes to the basic fundamental studies
(Buckles 180). Times were changing and this growth impacted the need for more schools.
The people who made up Rock River School District 103 New Milford Township,
wanted to show their dedication to the educational needs of their children by building a
bigger school. There were three school directors of District 103 who put the plans for the
new school together to present to the community. Their names were Anton Stenstrom, a
tool maker, Lars J. Seleen, a landowner, and Alrick Peterson, vice president of a lumber
company (Seleen Interview; Stenstrom Interview). Research shows that Mr. Seleen was
given an honorable mention as being the main driving force in getting Rock River built.
He displayed a sharp business sense and constant effort in securing the best educational
facilities available. In an interview with his grandson, it is believed that Mr. Seleen
owned part of land where Rock River stands (Seleen Interview). The directors put
together a bond issue, which was needed to buy the land and build the school. An election
was held in which the people of the community voted unanimously for the issue
(Winnebago County Schools).
Once the bond was passed, six acres of land that was once a limestone quarry was
purchased and construction commenced. To date, there has been no information available
on the name of who actually built the school. The architectural plans used to build the
Harlem Consolidated School building was reused to build Rock River (Stenstrom
Interview). No actual date was given for the completion of the school, but discovery of a
Towle - 3
photo of the completed school was dated December 20, 1911 (Winnebago County
Schools). Rock River Elementary was ready to begin its long journey of working with
the children within its community and providing them the best education possible.
The directors of Rock River, Seleen, Stenstrom, and Peterson, offered an interesting
policy for its students. Any child who went to Rock River and continued their education
was guaranteed a teaching job. That person was given one year to show that they deserved
a job there at Rock River. After one year, either the teacher or the directors could end the
employment if not satisfied. This guaranteed teaching hopefuls at least one year of
experience and provided the directors with the staff needed for the students (Stolgren
Rock River opened its doors in 1911 with 76 students, two teachers and a principal.
Originally three rooms on the main floor were used for the classrooms. The basement
area was used for an inside playground in bad weather. The top floor or attic housed the
living area for the janitor and his wife. Directly behind the school was a long building that
contained outside toilets for the children and faculty (Stenstrom Interview). By 1917,
Rock River had 1 74 students attending and a fourth room was in use on the main floor
(Stenstrom Interview). The establishment of Camp Grant in 1917 caused the closing of
nearby Miller Elementary School. When Miller School closed, its students came to Rock
River. This increased the enrollment at Rock River and created talk between the two
districts, Rock River and Miller, about combining into one school district. In 1920, this
happened and Rock River became Rock River Consolidated District No. 125 (Epsy 82).
In 1923, Rock River added a gym on the back of the school building in place of the
Towle - 4
outhouses. The basement area was converted to classrooms and Rock River continued to
teach to a growing number of students (Stenstrom Interview). Morris Kennedy School
was built that same year as part of District 1 25 to help alleviate the large number of
students. This helped very little as both schools experienced rapid enrollment.
In 1 929, Rock River Elementary received a special treat with the arrival of Richard
Patton, their new social studies teacher. It was the first time in the school's history to
have a male teacher. Patton was described by Irene Stolgren as a "colorful college
graduate who like to wear a raccoon coat to school." Students thought very high of
themselves if they were lucky enough to be in his class (Stolgren Interview).
Throughout the 1930s, the communities where each school was located fought with
each other over the use of school district funds. The funds were needed to remodel the
interior of the school to accommodate students. The biggest expense at the time was
converting the attic space, which once housed the janitor, into a library for the school
(Chappel; Stenstrom Interview). Finally, in November of 1940, the two schools formed
their own districts and Rock River became Rock River Consolidated District No. 129
Once again their own school district, Rock River had split many of their classes into
half days so that it could teach more children. One group of children came in the
mornings for their lessons and left at noon. The next group of children came in and
received the same lessons in the afternoon (Ward Interview; "$66,900 Federal ....";
Stolgren Interview). The teachers were well prepared with exactly what to teach the
children and the children learned the necessary skills. "While the half-day classes
Towle - 5
required the students to miss time in music, art, and physical education, the students did
not suffer academically" (Stolgren Interview).
In 1 942, Rock River made plans to add four rooms to the original building in hopes of
making more room for their students. These plans were scrapped when it was learned that
Camp Grant was building an 80-unit housing project for its non-commissioned officers
and their families. This housing unit eventually became the Orton Keyes Housing Project
that housed low-income families whose children would also go to Rock River. The
money raised in bonds for the four-room addition would now go to building a new
building that would be attached to the old school. As Rock River was the school
responsible for the education of children of military personnel, they received a federal
grant for the additional money that was needed. In 1 946, a new portion was built
connected to the old school. This new portion had two floors and contained eight new
classrooms ("$66,900 Federal ....").
Rock River, in February 1949, accepted twenty acres of land from the federal
government. Rock River used some of this land to build a playground for its students.
The rest was held onto in case more room was needed for the school ("Voters Ok'd ..").
In the early 1950s, the city of Rockford had been slowly combining all of the outlying
school districts into one. The city had grown into the surrounding areas including the area
around Rock River. It was believed that all of the children would benefit from being part
of one school district. In 1 952, keeping with its goal to merge school districts,
Rock River was annexed to the city of Rockford and became part of Rockford Charter
District No. 205(Epsy 129). Rock River has stayed with District 205 for fifty years, the
Towle - 6
longest period of time with one district in its life as a school.
In 1959, Rock River made two additions to the school building. A section was added
to the gym that contained boys and girls' locker room, storage room and a kitchen. The
other addition was added to the earlier first addition. It was one floor and contained the
new library and three classrooms. Two years later in 1961, a second floor was added to
the addition. With this second floor, which contained five classrooms, Rock River's
current exterior appearance was complete.
With the outside of the school complete, Rock River continued to make interior
changes. This included rearranging classrooms and remodeling the main office and the
nurse's office. Most recently, the classes were wired for the Internet, bringing Rock River
to the 21st century (Ward Interview; Towle Interview).
According to the most recent statistics, forty-eight percent of the students that
currently attend Rock River Elementary live within a one-mile radius of the school
(Rockford Board of Ed.). Ninety-two percent of the students attending Rock River are at
the poverty rate. Because of the high poverty rate, students at Rock River are eligible to
receive special services including reduced and/or free breakfast and lunches. This
classifies Rock River as a Title 1 school making it eligible for grant money. As a Title 1
school, students and their families can get tutoring help, computer instruction, and other
services. If these students went to other schools, they may not be eligible to receive these
needed services (Rockford Board of Ed.; Towle Interview). The mayor of Rockford,
Doug Scott, is a proponent of both the education system as well as the lower income
communities within Rockford. Mayor Scott calls the schools "vital" and is quoted as
Towle - 7
saying, "All of our students, like all of our neighborhoods, deserve the best possible
opportunity to succeed..." (Scott 12).
As with many buildings of its age, Rock River has its share of interesting stories. One
such story is the supposed haunting of the original part of the building. It is rumored that
a former principal hung himself in the attic and now watches over that part of the
building. Although no factual evidence has been discovered regarding the suicide, many
past and present staff members report sightings and unusual occurrences. The current gym
teacher stated, "I saw a man standing at the top of the stairs looking down toward the gym
when I was closing after a basketball game. When I asked him 'How can I help you?', he
disappeared into thin air" (Stine Interview). She also went on to say that on many
occasions she has unlocked her office in the morning to find numerous items rearranged
with no logical explanation why. Other staff members who also have classrooms in the
original part of the school have experienced similar situations (Stine Interview; Ward
Rock River frequently has guests come to visit the school who were past students
and/or teachers. As they enter Rock River's doors, comments are heard often starting with
the phrases "I remember when ..." or "I used to ...". Many hold fond memories of their
time at Rock River and lasting friendships were formed. There are groups of teachers who
get together on a regular basis to talk about their time at Rock River. According to former
student and teacher, Irene Stolgren, "We cherished our time here at Rock River." Even
current teachers consider their time at Rock River special. They have faced the threat of
the possibility of Rock River closure and the challenge of serving a diverse student
f[ I ,:
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Towle - 8
population. As one teacher states, "There is no other place I would rather teach" (Stolgren
Interview; Towle Interview).
In the ninety-one years of existence, Rock River has experienced changes to
accommodate the ever-growing number and needs of its students. It has gone from being
a solitary school district to a combined district back to a solitary district and finally part of
the Rockford Public School District 205. Rock River has made changes to its physical
self, both interior and exterior. It has seen its enrollment of children from the local
community change from middle class income families to poverty level families.
Throughout it all, Rock River has continued to provide all of the children that come
through its doors an education.
"$66,900 Federal Grant To Rock River School. " Rockford Morning Star 7 March 1942.
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
Buckles, Stanley J. "From Slate to Computer. " Sinnissippi Saga:
A History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois. Ed. C. Hal Nelson.
Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee, 1968. 173-190.
Byers, Christine. Mayor Upbeat About City's Future. Rockford Register Star .
28 August 2002: 20 pars. 10 November 2002.
www.rrstar.com/localnews/your_community/rockford/20020828-l 1 933.shtml
Chappel, Katharine K. Marion Moore Fletcher, Principal of Rock River School,
Believes In Democracy And Practices It, Too. Register Star. 2 February 1945.
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library.
Espy, Charles C. "The History of Public Education in Winnebago County."
Publisher Unknown. 1967.
Heck, Robert. "From Canoe to Jet." Sinnissippi Saga:
A History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois. Ed. C. Hal Nelson.
Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee, 1968. 1 13-135.
Monahan, Robert. "Home Town Genius at Work." Sinnissippi Saga:
A History of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois. Ed. C. Hal Nelson.
Winnebago County Illinois Sesquicentennial Committee, 1968. 136-159.
Nelson, Harold L. Phone Interview. 25 November 2002.
III ,. ,;
Rock River Elementary School. Completed Building. Photographer Unknown.
Acquired from Winnebago County Schools Annual Report. 20 December 1911.
Rock River School District 103 Original Entrance. Photo by the author.
23 November 2002.
Rock River School Name of Directors. Photo by the author. 23 November 2002.
Rock River School Old and New. Photo by the author. 23 November 2002.
Rock River Playground. Photo by the author. 23 November 2002.
Rock River School South Side. Photo by the author. 23 November 2002.
Rock River School Today. Photo by the author. 23 November 2002.
Rock River School West Side. Photo by the author. 23 November 2002.
Rockford Board of Education. Fall Housing Report. Pamphlet. 2000-2001.
Rockford Board of Education. Staff Statistics Report. Pamphlet. 2000-2001.
Rockford Board of Education. Student Population Report. Pamphlet. 2000-2001.
Rockford School District No. 205. Floor Plan. No Date Given.
Rockford School District No. 205. Site Plan. No Date Given.
Scott, Doug. "State if the City". No Date Given.
City of Rockford, Illinois. 14 November 2002. Available [www.ci.rockford.il.us]
Seleen, Rodney. Phone Interview. 22 November 2002.
Stenstrom, Martha. Phone Interview. 26 November 2002
Stine, Mary. Personal Interview. 22 October 2002.
Stolgren, Irene Riverdahl. Phone Interview. 16 October 2002.
Towle, Emily. Personal Interview. 01 October 2002.
Towle - 1 1
Ward, Brad. Personal Interview. 21 October 2002.
Winnebago County Schools. Winnebago County Schools Annual Report. 191 1.
"Year by Year: 1 900-2001 . Family Education Network.
1 October 2002. <http://www.infoplease.eom/year/l 911 .html
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ROCK RIVER SCHOOL
Birth and Growth of the Rock Valley College Aviation
English Composition, Rock Valley College
Flight Line Knowledge
The Roek Valley College Airframe and Power plant program has gone from a
glimmer in someone's eye to the fine department for A&P mechanics it is today. The
school's journey from its humble beginnings in a shared hangar to the constantly
changing hangar it is in today has been a rocky one.
To appreciate the starting of the school one has to understand how the grounds
themselves, the Greater Rockford Aiiport, got started. The airport itself had a rough start.
The Rockford city government tried for years to just get the ball rolling on this project.
The budgets and charters from the government kept getting turned down. Plus the army
would not even think about it because they said it had no strategic importance (City Plan
Commission). Many sites looked promising, but they would not give room for
expansion. The only one that looked like it would work was the Camp Grant site but it
belonged to the United States government (Cities Aiiport). Also, the government had
something to do with the procrastination of the airport. The army kept turning it down
for strategic reasons. Government held back the ok to sell the site of camp grant so long
that it took a few years just to free up the land. Yet the spark of interest was still there.
The city wanted to use the aiiport to send mail. The number of letters coming in
and out of the city were sky rocketing. The current system of handling mail would be
expanded by the building of the new aiiport. United Air Lines also wanted to expand
their routes and wanted to use Rockford as an air hub (City Placed). Finally, things
started to get finalized. The deal for the land was finally sealed. The government finally
gave the price along with the ok to buy the land. The deal also saved the City of
Rockford a great deal of money.
An airport authority was also formed. The men appointed to this committee were
Swan Hillman, Kimball L. Finkenstaldt, Harry R. Shaw, and Glen L. Abbestett (Five
Named). These are the people who made all the decisions concerning the airport. Finally
building started and the ball was finally rolling. The airport authority finally got the
funding and the go ahead to hire a firm to start building. Chicago consulting engineers
Foth, Parath and Horner, Inc were hired to design and build the airport (Chicago Firm).
Now that the struggle to build the airport was over the Rock Valley College
Aviation Maintenance School begun it's journey. In 1966, talk started to emerge to form
the school. Jim Froemming got it all started (Billman interview). Besides starting the
school he was also working part time for both Rock Valley College and Herzog.
Froemming created the school program which basically consisted of getting a curriculum
together to be approved by the FAA. Classes finally got started in 1968( Billman
The building was small, but the instructors and students made due. It was located
by the US Weather Building on the airfield. The building was not only small, it had to be
shared with Herzog. The building space consisted of one small hangar, one small
classroom and two small labs. Like the building, the first class was also small. The first
year's program only had ten to twelve students in it. The class was made up entirely of
males (Billman interview).
Rock Valley College purchased a building which would solve these problems.
The building was purchased from the Rockford Newspaper. The purchase was finalized
in the spring of 1972 (Billman interview). Along with the purchase also came the
newspaper's Douglas DC-3 to add to the program. The building was not without a list of
shortcomings. These included a drafty curtain main door which needed constant repair
and replacement. A bathroom was available though it was small, a small upstairs office
suited the instructors temporally, and three small but useful rooms for labs and a class
room. A small loft was also available, but its floor would not take the tremendous weight
of engines and propellers.
Most of these problems were remedied in the first major renovation in 1984
(Billman interview). In this reconstruction, the east hangar wall was reinforced and a
new handicapped-accessible bathroom was added. With the newly-reinforced wall a
new, larger loft was added which provided room for a new larger upstairs office with a
sheet metal shop beneath. These new additions made life in the hangar easier. A single
bathroom no longer had to be shared between men and women. Also the new loft
provided more storage space in addition for allowing the classroom to gain size and
adding the sheet metal shop.
The college did not stop there. In 1995, the welding program changed (Billman
interview). The college built a new and improved welding lab. The new lab was built in
the new building located on Samuelson Road. This facility was better equipped and
totally dedicated to teaching welding. The short distance between the hangar and the new
welding facility made it possible to be used for the class. With the new welding lab there
was no need to have a welding shop in the hangar so the space would be changed. The
old lab was redone. Most of all the welding equipment was relocated and the room
served as the new engine shop.
The year 2000 brought even more change to the once antiquated newspaper
building (Billman interview). The classroom and loft received a face lift. The loft had
walls installed on its boundaries to prohibit students and instructors alike from going over
the edge. Also the floor received some much needed reinforcing. These new changes in
the upstairs provided the means for a computer lab. Also, more ever-needed storage
space was added. For the classroom was another line-up of upgrades, including
improved sight for students as the lights were upgraded. Also to fight off the summer-
time blues, air-conditioning was installed.
Additions were also made to the hangar. The electrical side of the hangar first.
New more powerful lighting shed light on the sometimes frustrating work in the hangar.
Also in the cable end of things, a new security system protected the building when left to
rest. The physical aspect of the building also changed during this period. The floor was
repainted a beautiful shade of glossy gray. A new paint booth also emerged from its mail
ordered boxes. For the grand finale, the old, drafty curtain door was replaced with a new
solid bi-fold door (Billman interview).
The ongoing wind of change still continues to blow at the hangar. Recently, in
the past year, the Aviation Maintenance Program of Rock Valley College was linked to
the mainframe computer at the college. A new lighted sign was added to show the way to
the hangar. Also, a new smart classroom was installed. This includes a few changes to
the original classroom. The additions included a projector with a computer and
additional hook ups located throughout the room to make teaching easier. As a student,
the author of this paper also had a hand in improving the hangar via some instructor-
induced student labor. The students, during this period of change, built a tool crib to
house all the many tools the college owned. A prop rack was made in the loft to store the
many props lying around the hangar. Last, but not least, the student also had a hand in
installing the new paint booth.
The Rock Valley College A&P program has had its ups and downs. Or rather its
downs and ups to put it in chronological order. With the addition of the new building
which still stands to day on 6349 Falcon Rd. the future looks bright for the school. As for
the building, its structure is at the hands of the people who work in it. These instructors
will continue in the true mechanics style to never be satisfied with what they have if it
can be made better. So the building will continue to change as will the times it stands in.
Billman, Chuck, Personal interview. September 2002.
"Chicago Firm Gets Contract to Draw Plans" July 24 1947 Rockforiana files. Rockford
"City Placed on New Air Route' 1 December 6 1943 Rockforiana Files. Rockford Public
"City Plan Commission Launches Movement to Establish Airport." July 3, 1943.
Rockforiana files. Rockford Public Library.
"City's Airport May be Ready by Fall of 1948" March 7, 1947. Rockforiana Files.
Rockford Public Library.
"Five Named as Local Airport Commissioners." December 1, 1943. Rockforiana Files.
Rockford Public Library.
The Rockford Foundry is one of the older buildings in Rockford. It has an
interesting history that would appeal to just about anyone.
The Foundry is not in suburbia. From the east side of Rockford, it takes about
twenty-five minutes to get to the Rockford Foundry. It is located on the west side of
Rockford. Right off of South Main at 212 Mill Street. One might not take the trip at
night, because it is located in a bad area.
The building is located in the old Water Power District, however the building has
always been run by electric power. The Water Power District is an area where most of
the buildings were powered by water, instead of electricity. The building has always been
located in the same place at 212 Mill Street, Lot 13.
The man involved in the building's development was C.B. Irvine, who was the
owner of Rockford Overalls Manufacturing. Mr. Irvine passed away shortly after building
the business. Rockford Overalls Mfg. was responsible for the costs of the construction of
the building. The construction details for the Rockford Foundry were hard to come by. It
is known though that the building was finished early in the year of 1924 (Rundquist,
Richard. Personal Interview. 1 Oct. 2002).
The building at 212 Mill Street has a complicated history. Shortly after
construction, the owner C.B. Irvine had a large elevator put in the building. About a year
after the elevator was put in, Rockford Overalls Mfg. went out of business. The building
remained vacant from 1927 to 1932. In 1933, Illinois Water Treatment Co. bought the
building and retained ownership until 1935. Bradley Machinery bought the building from
Illinois Water Treatment Co. in 1935. Two years later, Bradley Machinery sold it to
Rockford Standard Pattern when they made an offer in 1937. Businesses had a difficult
time during the 1920s and early 1930s because of the Depression (Rundquist, Richard.
Personal Interview. 1 Oct. 2002).
Through better economic times, Rockford Standard Pattern owned the building
from 1937 to 1967. There are no records of there inventory. Rockford Standard Pattern
did a portion of their business with local shops. One specific local business was Barber
Coleman. At that time Barber Coleman did mostly smaller size orders. Rockford
Standard Pattern expanded its business by opening a small foundry on the top floor of the
building. The first floor was the pattern shop. The large windows in the front of the
building were put there to allow supervision of the workers. Finally in 1967, Rockford
Standard Pattern went out of business, and sold the building to Craig Lindmark
(Rundquist, Richard. Personal Interview, 1 Oct.2002).
In 1 967, Craig Lindmark bought what is today the Rockford Foundry. The first
change Craig made was to put in a sand system. Gunite, a Rockford manufacturing
company, customized the sand system. The sand system worked by a stand that goes
through the hoppers in the floor. Then, the sand moved through a grate that moved down
into a processing machine, after which it continued up a elevator designed to carry the
sand. The second floor were where it went to the hoppers that suspended the sand above
the molding machine. A worker could get the sand that way, so he didn't have to shovel.
Conveyers were also installed for the molds, so the men didn't have to bend over and hurt
their backs. Also, during this time there was an addition built onto the east side of the
building to hold the furnaces. The furnace room is a sheet metal covered room that is
twelve by twenty-five feet. The furnace room is where the metal is melted to make molds.
Craig also put a cleaning room in the basement where the workers could wash. It was at
this point in time that Craig wanted out of the business (Rundquist, Richard. Personal
Interview. 1 Oct. 2002).
Richard Rundquist made an offer to Craig Lindmark to buy the Rockford Foundry
the first week of January in 1978. At that time, Dick was working at Greenlee Tool.
Dick took over the company April 1, 1978. Richard's wife, Shirley came down and ran
the office from time to time. Richard had never worked with aluminum or brass before.
He had only worked with iron, so it was rough for him at first. Aluminum and brass are
totally different metals than iron. Aluminum needs to be heated up around 1300-1500
degrees. Brass needs to be heated at around 1 800-2200 degrees. At the time Richard
purchased the business, Craig and he made a deal that Craig would help him out for
awhile. But after about three weeks, Craig did not show. That was not part of the deal,
but Richard was fine with it (Rundquist, Richard. Personal Interview. 1 Oct. 2002).
Dick Rundquist has two sons, John age 42 and Peter age 47. Peter started working
at the foundry in February of 1 98 1 . Shortly after this time, the business expanded and
bought the Woodward building next to the Foundry. The Woodward building is mainly
used for storage. In fact, the writer's family camper is stored in this building. The owner
of the Rockford Foundry tries to rent out some of the space in the old Woodward
building. The business stores a lot of patterns in the old Woodward building. All patterns
have a two hundred pound limit on any one casting. The Rockford Foundry works with
aluminum, brass, and bronze. The quarterly use of brass and bronze is 15,000 pounds
and aluminum is 70,000 pounds. The size of the castings range from .25 lb. to 160 lb. The
patterns can be larger in size with aluminum, but nothing over four feet long. The reason
is that aluminum is lighter in weight (Rundquist, Richard. Personal Interview. 1 Oct.
When Peter started at the Foundry, there was a 600-pound furnace and a 275-
pound furnace. Peter never saw the 600-pound furnace run. It was at this time that the
Rockford Foundry owner decided to remodel the furnace room. When the remodeling
took place, they purchased two 275-pound furnaces and two smaller furnaces. They also
put a new blower system on the furnaces and JIB burners. The JIB burners are junior
incinerator burners. The JIB burners are a self contained unit. All the electronic burners
are used by a switch. The new JIB burners have a more steady burner.
Rockford Foundry used to have six molding machines and now has four. Ten
years ago the company put new windows in the building. Another Rockford Company,
Cardinal Glass put the windows in. Only the windows in the front of the building were
replaced, because business is slow. The building as it stands today needs work, because it
loses a lot of heat in the winter.
Five years ago, the company cemented the first floor. The floor was originally all
wooden. Over time the floor buckled and warped from water and sand. There were two
inches of concrete poured where the wooden floor was. Today, there is still a small piece
wooden floor visible. The section that is still wooden is used primarily for storage.
Three years ago, a self set mixing machine was put in the building. The machine
mixes fifty pounds of sand and two different chemicals together in only one minute. The
foundry could have used other machines, but it was the only machine they could get in the
building. Peter had to work with height limitations and other restrictions. The self set
mixing machine is five feet tall, which allows seven feet above the machine. Peter
designed a bin which would allow the sand to pass through from above the machine. The
machine makes the corn maker's job easier. The corn maker is the worker who mixes the
sand and chemicals together. The machine also helps the business because it allows the
worker to get more done in less time.
The customers of Rockford Foundry have changed a lot in the past twenty years.
The Rockford Foundry even does business with private individuals, making different
symbols of American heritage from a sailboat to a pineapple. The solid brass or
aluminum symbols can suit anyone's house or apartment. Out of the thirty-some
foundries that were here seventy years ago, only four are left. The plastic division is gone.
It is not uncommon today for companies to go outside of Rockford to find parts.
Rockford did not have to do that a long time ago (Rundquist, Peter. Personal Interview.
25 Oct. 2002).
The neighborhood that the Rockford Foundry is located in has not changed for
the better. Seventy years ago that area was more of a pleasant place. The neighborhood
has become rundown. The neighborhood is not as safe anymore either. The
manufacturing industry is a totally changing market. Rockford has lost part of its
manufacturing base, but thankfully there will always be a market for manufacturing.
Rundquist, Richard. Personal Interview. 1 Oct. 2002
Rundquist, Peter. Personal Interview. 25 Oct. 2002
Molyneoux, John. Personal Interview. 1 5 Oct. 2002
Rockford Standard Pattern, Rockford IL. Photographer unknown. Acquired from
Dave Oberg at Midway. Date of photo unknown.
Rockford Foundry, Rockford IL. Photographer Mr. Fisher. Acquired from Mr.
Fisher at class. Date of Photo November 2002.
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A Part of Rockford's History is Born in 1883
English Composition, Rock Valley College
English 101 NA1
26 November 2002
A Part of Rockford's History is Born in 1883
What is the difference between the original Rockford Hospital and the Rockford
Memorial Hospital? The truth is, they are both the same thing because Rockford Hospital grew
into Rockford Memorial Hospital. Rockford Hospital was originally the home of a Dr. W.R.
Fitch, and even though Rockford Hospital is not a national park or state school, it still plays an
important role in our local history. The old Rockford Hospital has contributed to Rockford's
history more than any other Rockford historical site, and everyone's lives have been affected by
the old Rockford Hospital's history despite how it has changed in today's society.
Every part of Illinois history or even American history has needed a hospital at one time
or another, and the people of Rockford knew back in 1885 that they needed one, too. Without
Rockford Hospital having a part in Rockford's local history, there might not have been Rockford
Memorial Hospital, which is an important part of the Rockford community today. Rockford
Memorial Hospital takes care of everyone's loved ones when they are sick and many others as
well, and the Rockford Hospital did the same thing for the people of their time.
Although the old Rockford Hospital does not exist anymore, there is an exact replica of
the building located at the Midway Village and Museum Center in Rockford, IL. Midway
Village has a replica town on its site with many magnificent artifacts and stories. Walking into
the small village a visitor gets the feeling of being in the time frame of the late 1800s and early
1900s. As long as someone can find their way to Rockford (the second largest city in Illinois),
they can find their way to Midway Village and its wonderful replica of the old Rockford
Hospital. It's as easy as one, two, three.
From the Midway Village parking lot, go into the admissions building to the right of the
parking lot, and pay admission to the park. After paying at the desk, it will now be okay to enter
through the main gate. (Sorry, there is walking involved now.) Walk through the main gate and
up a small red brick path. At the end of the red brick path there will be a gravel road. Take a left
on the gravel road to go through Midway Village. Follow the gravel road past the General Store,
Gazette Office, Town Hall, and Blacksmith building. At the T in the small gravel road, go left
past the Law Office and Church. Just past the Church, on the left, will be the Rockford Hospital.
In front of the hospital there is a sign that says "Rockford Hospital: Keep Quiet: Remember the
This replica building is two stories tall and resembles a large home in today's society.
Giving it a kind of dollhouse look, the building is white with Easter green trim/shudders and a
wrap around porch. Towards the right side of the building is a red-brick walkway leading to a
large door. Windows surround the building on every side except for the back side, bringing in
lots of sunshine. In large black print on the front side of the building "ROCKFORD
HOSPITAL" is spelled out in bold capital letters. There are flower bushes every so often around
the building giving it the appearance that they have been there since the real Rockford Hospital
was originated in the late 1800s. Holding a simple structure, the building has one large wrap
around porch that covers about half of the building's perimeter. In walking across the floors of
the porch, the floorboards creak with age.
It took a lot of hard work to make this beautiful replica. In this building's day, it was a
place for the sick to come and get well. Although it is only a % replica of the original Rockford
Hospital, it is still very large. In the presence of this large building, the feel of home comes to
mind a lot more easily than it would at one of today's hospitals. The building and its area
present much more of a bright and cheery atmosphere than that of today's Rockford hospitals.
The Rockford Hospital replica in Midway Village creates the feeling of walking through
the town on the old TV show, 'The Little House on the Prairie." Midway Village did an
excellent job of building this Rockford Hospital, and they have information that is endless for
people to learn about it. Now having been there, coming back just to see this beautiful town and
its wonderful hospital will be exciting.
The original Rockford Hospital that Midway Village's exquisite building represents only
had 100 patients in their first year, and ob\ iouslv this has changed over the years. Today, the
Rockford Memorial Hospital has over 490 beds (Rockford 1 ), and in 1883, the Rockford City
Hospital only had 15 beds (Green 1). The Rockford community came to the realization that a
hospital needed to be built in their community. Today, looking back at when it was created,
where and how the idea came about, and who was involved in the creation of this amazing
hospital, anyone can see that it started out almost microscopic and turned into something
Rockford Hospital was not always the Rockford City Hospital. It started out as an
everyday home. The home originally belonged to Dr. William H. Fitch until the City of
Rockford purchased it. The home was purchased for $ 6,300.00 (Monahan: The Growth... 4),
and it only took $1,000.00 to convert it into a working hospital (Green 1 ).
During this time, there were many important events taking place. Before the Civil War,
Rockford was the head of an anti-slavery region. Also at this time, Rockford's industry was
beginning to work along with the help of machine tools. Therefore, this started Rockford's
furniture industry that would soon be the center of furniture manufacturing for the entire United
States (Molyneaux 1 ). However, along with the industry and factories came disease, and factory
conditions started contributing to the diseases of this time era causing an even higher demand for
a hospital (Monahan: Bear... 10).
Meanwhile, outside of Rock ford, between 1870 and 1900, the state of Illinois had violent
labor incidents occurring in its area, such as the Haymarket Square Riot and the Pullman Strike.
Illinois was also having a difficult time growing economically, and incidents such as the Chicago
Fire of 1871 were slowing it down even further (History 2).
Taking a larger step past what was going on in Rockford and Illinois at this time, the
world was having significant changes as well. One of the things that were changing in the world
that greatly helped the Rockford Hospital was the invention of the light bulb. Thomas Edison
had just invented the electric light, and this greatly helped the hospital in taking care of their
patients ("1800-1899" 8). They could not only see better in dark conditions, but this brought
about the possibility of using x-rays later in history. In addition, Americans were also trying to
overcome the Civil War, and hospitals were needed to take care of and help with the recovery of
the wounded soldiers (7).
However, hospital care was not only needed in war, and this is how the Rockford
Hospital came about because there was an everyday need for this type of medical help in citizens
everyday lives. Therefore, "On April 16, 1884, the Board of Trustees of the Rockford Hospital
Association wrote a letter to the city's 33 physicians, asking their support for the desired
establishment of a hospital". However, the location of the Rockford Hospital has changed, and it
has been converted into the Rockford Memorial Hospital of today. The old Rockford Hospital
was located at the comer of South Court Street and Chestnut Street, while the Rockford
Memorial Hospital today is located at 2400 North Rockton Avenue ( 1 ). Everyone, including
physicians, churches, and the everyday citizens of Rockford, came together and donated money
and supplies toward the new hospital until they had reached their goal, and on October 10, 1985,
Matron Martha J. Smith admitted their first patient in their 15-bed hospital (R.M.H. Reports 1).
Throughout this whole creation of the Rockford City Hospital, there were few, if any,
difficulties documented, and the construction of the hospital went very smoothly and very
quickly. They had the hospital built within a year after it had been requested, and at the start of
the hospital, there were 300 volunteer workers ready to work, taking care of all the needs of
today's 523 bed hospital ( 1 ).
However, without the time and effort of a couple people, the creation of the Rockford
Hospital could have never taken place. Dr. William Fitch was the original owner of the home
where the hospital was located, and he played a large role in the creation of the site (Green 1 ). In
addition, Miss Elizabeth O. Glenn was the superintendent of the Rockford Hospital School of
Nursing at that time, and she was responsible for the training of the nurses who were employed
at the old Rockford Hospital (Presenting 1).
A good way to look at the old Rockford Hospital and today's Rockford Memorial
Hospital is to think of an ice cube and its original state. An ice cube does not start out as an ice
cube. It starts out as water, and over the time it spends in the freezer, it becomes its new state of
the ice cube. It is still the same thing, but it is just in a different state. The same type of analogy
can be used to compare and contrast the old Rockford Hospital of 1883 to the Rockford
Memorial Hospital of today. Just as the ice cube is still just water after its time in the freezer, the
hospital today is still much like it was in 1883. The Rockford Memorial Hospital still serves the
same purpose today as the old Rockford Hospital did in 1883 despite the many physical
differences due to technological advances over the years.
Looking at the similarities between today's hospital and the Rockford Hospital of 1883,
both hospitals' main purposes are to help and serve others who are sick or hurt. Rockford
Memorial Hospital's main purpose is to provide the best clinical care that they can for their
patients, and the Rockford Hospital back in 1883 had that same purpose. During Rockford
Hospital's beginning era, they treated many health issues, such as Hodgkin's disease,
pneumonia, cirrhosis, tuberculosis, diabetes, and asthma (Second... 37), and today Rockford
Memorial Hospital still treats many of these same health issues. The only difference is that
Rockford Memorial Hospital can offer more specialized treatments for illnesses, and these
services include areas in the "high-risk perinatal unit, maternal-fetal medicine department, a
Level III neonatal intensive care unit, impatient rehabilitation, aquatic therapy, to name a few"
(Rockford 1). Again, both hospitals' main purpose is the same, and they cared for many of the
same health problems in their patients.
Contrary to the similarities that the Rockford Hospital of 1883 and the Rockford
Memorial Hospital of today have, there are many differences. Obviously, things have changed
over time, in all areas, not only in relation to the hospitals of our area, and today's many
technological advances are to thank for this. The old Rockford Hospital was located at the
corner of South Court Street and Chestnut Street (R.M.H. Reports 1 ), while the Rockford
Memorial Hospital today is located at 2400 North Rockton Avenue (Rockford 1 ) because, over
time, technological advances have caused the Rockford Hospital to grow. Just by looking at
pictures of the Rockford Hospital of 1883 and the Rockford Memorial Hospital of today, it is
easy to see that it has grown. (See attached pictures.) Just to show how technology has
advanced, our society can look at how our hospital today has such tools as more advanced x-
rays, computerized machines and equipment, and even access to a helicopter called R.E.A.C.T.
(Regional Acute Care Transport). These more advanced tools and equipment have given our
hospital today the ability to treat illnesses on a more specialized level, and some of the programs
that they offer on this more specialized level include: "The Children's Medical Center, The Heart
Center, The Cancer Center, and a regional primary care network" (Rockford 1 ). This is a vast
expansion in care compared to the broad responsibilities a doctor or nurse in the 1880s would
have. In 1883, the medical staffs duties only included "noting and recording a patient's
condition; assisting the physician; sweeping, mopping, and dusting; minding the stove; washing
windows ("Second" 1 ). Their responsibilities were much broader than that of today's medical
To get a look at what the medical staff of the original hospital had to work with,
Rockford citizens can visit the replica of the old Rockford Hospital that Rockford has. Although
it is a three-fourths replica of the original building, the differences between it and the Rockford
Memorial Hospital of today jump right out. Recently, in an interview that Amanda Hundertmark
had on October 30, 2002 with Rosalynn Robertson, curator since 1998 at Midway Village,
Rosalynn told Amanda that, "the Rockford Hospital on our site was built in 1988, and the
committees and board of directors of Midway Village were in charge of the creation of this site"
(Robertson). Rosalynn also told Amanda that, "much like the other sites in our village, it took
the contractors about one year to build the Rockford Hospital, and the Rockford Park District
hired an architect, Harry Anderson, to construct the site out of a master site plan" (Robertson).
In addition, Rosalynn stated, "Midway Village and the Rockford Park District built this site
completely from donations because it is not legal to use government money to originally build a
site. Just like a museum, the government does, however, give grants to help maintain and
preserve the Rockford Hospital site at Midway Village, but it did not provide money to build it"
Now, looking back to the ice cube analogy, the Rockford Hospital site that
Rosalynn Robertson was speaking of is like an example of the water before it turns into the ice
cube, and this is an example of today's Rockford Memorial Hospital in its original state. In
addition, despite the many technological advances our society has made to cause the old
Rockford Hospital to grow into the Rockford Memorial Hospital of today, a main similarity can
be found. Both hospitals have exhibited or are exhibiting a main purpose of serving those in
need, and in conclusion the old Rockford Hospital has contributed to Rockford' s history more
than any other Rockford historical site, and everyone's lives have been affected by the old
Rockford Hospital's history despite how it has changed in today's society.
°"v*£ ■.^"7«-. 1, X;v<;:s'<v\v,
QCKFQRDlMEMqRlAL HOSPITAL TODAY
(Picture Retrieved from Unknown Newspaper and Unknown Date and Author
(Midway Village Archives)
Rockford Hospital, October 10, 1885
(Picture Retrieved from Rockford Memorial
Hospital: The Pulse 10 October, 1975)
"1 800-1 899 (A.D.) World History." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2000.
Online. 29 September 2002. Available[http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/
Green, Lisa. "Rockford Memorial opened in 1885 with 15 beds." The Rockford Register
Star 3 August 1986, Section 15H.
"History." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 2000. Online. 29 September 2002.
Molyneaux, John L. "A History of Rockford, Illinois." Rockford Public Library Catalog.
The Rockford Public Library (Local History Room): Rockford, 1997. Online.
25 September 2002. Available
[http://www. rpl. rockford. org/community/History%20of%Rockfordh. htm] .
Monahan, James. Bear Ye One Another 's Burdens: The Early Years of Rockford
Memorial Hospital. Rockford: Trustees of Rockford Memorial Hospital, 1983.
Monahan, James. The Growth of Rockford Memorial Hospital: 1900-1983. Rockford:
Trustees of Rockford Memorial Hospital, 1985.
"Presenting Fourteen Young Disciples of Florence Nightingale, And A Pioneer."
(Author Unknown) The Rockford Register Star 15 October 1989, Section
Robertson, Rosalynn. Curator at Midway Village and Museum Center. Personal
Interview. 30 October 2002.
"Rockford Memorial Hospital." Rockford Health System. Online. 30 September 2002.
Available[http://www. rhsnet. org/About/rmh. cfm] .
"Rockford Memorial Hospital Reports to the Community on Our 90 th Anniversary."
(Author Unknown). Newspaper Unknown. Date Unknown, Section Unknown.
Midway Village and Museum Center Archives.
Second Report of the Board of Trustees, Rockford Hospital Association, April 1886 to
April 1893. Smith Publishing, Co. 1893. (Handout received from David Oberg,
Educational Director) Midway Village and Museum Center Archives.
v : o
Room for Two
Room for Two
From looking at the building that today houses the Rockford Register Star
newspaper, The News Tower, one might not have known that at one point in its history it
was the home to two local newspapers, The Morning Star and Register-Republic. One
interesting fact I learned while researching the history of the News Tower was that it
would never have been possible if not for one woman ahead of her time, Ruth Hanna
McCormick. Now today that would not be so shocking, may not have been at that time
either, but we must understand that women didn't even have the right to vote until 1920,
and here is a women who was the publisher of two of Rockford's biggest and most
The News Tower was not built just to produce newspapers for The Morning Star
and Register-Republic, but as a symbol in Rockford for years to come "as a center of the
city's life and in keeping with building which will be erected during the remainder of the
twentieth century (Star, 38)." Reading this quote, one realizes that the architects behind
the erecting of this building had a greater vision than just another news paper plant. They
wanted it to stand out and be a beacon to be the center of what makes Rockford great.
The first home of The Morning Star was located on North Wyman St. in 1908 and
was the home for The Morning Star up until 1928. The Star and Register-Gazette merged
into The Republic building in 1928, the current site of the News Tower. Construction for
the first unit of the News Tower was started in the spring of 1929 (Star, 1938). This was
going to be the seven-story tower that we see today while driving on State Street, which
is a 45-feet square and seven stories high and is made out of Bedford Stone and stainless
steel (Register- Republic, 193 1?). The top of the tower houses a penthouse in the top
story with an architectural lantern, created by the steeply slope of the roof (Register-
Republic, 1931?). At the very top of tower, 130 feet from ground level, is a flagpole,
which we can see to this day with the light shinning on it when the sun descends for the
evening. By 1930, the first unit of the News Tower was finished (Star, 1938). The
architect who designed the News Tower was Jesse Barloga and was constructed by W. H.
Cook (The Star, 1938).
In 193 1, Ruth Hanna McCormick began plans for the second unit of the tower and
ground was broken in June of 193 1 . Construction was completed for the second unit
almost one year to the date, in July of 1932, and on the 23 of July, the presses released
the first edition of The Star out of its new home. The second addition to the News Tower
is "37 feet high, with a depth of 146 feet and a width of 44 feet (Register-Republic,
1947). This was to be used to house the printing press and another room was remodeled
to house the facilities expanded mailroom. This space was added due to the newspapers
growing circulation around the city (Register- Republic, 1947). During this time, The
Morning Star and Register-Republic were publishing 71,000 papers daily and 46,000
papers on Sundays (Register-Republic, 1947).
How the News Tower got its name is quite an interesting story. The Register-
Republic and The Morning Star held a contest in spring of 1934 where people from
around the city submitted suggestions for the name of the building. More than 25,000
readers of the two papers submitted what they would like to have been the name of the
News Tower. But it was one woman who won the prize. Theresa Severin, who lived at
309 North Main Street, had the honor of naming the building, which has its name today,
the News Tower. Some of the reasons that Miss Severin's naming suggestion were that
the name stated the purpose of the building, brief, dignified, advertising value,
permanent, and was impersonal (The Morning Star, 1934). Miss Severin was awarded
fifty dollars for winning the contest.
The two newspapers didn't combine into one paper until with winter of 1978,
where they became The Rockford Register Star. The paper didn't change anything with
the operation of the publishing the paper, the only difference is that people would now
just get one paper with one name instead of the daily and the Sunday paper.
The News Tower is a thing of beauty and a monument to architectural and
engineering genius from the bottom of its foundation 30 feet below the normal water
level of the Tock river to the peak of the 12,000 watt color lamp which crowns the
building (The Morning Star, 1938). The architect, Jesse Barloga, added a touch of art to
the design of this building, because he wanted the building to not just be another
newspaper plant, but something that the people of Rockford could be proud of.
"$200,000 Tower and Annex to be Built for Paper." The Morning Star April 1 93 1 ?
Pg not available. Rockfordiana Files
"4 Homes Have Housed Star." The Morning Star . 3-20-38 Pg not available.
"Miss Theresa Severin Has Honor of Naming News Tower." The Morning Star 5-20-34:
pg not available. Rockfordiana Files
Newton, Steve. "On Tuesday, it's Register Star." Register-Republic 12-29-78: pg
numbers not available. Rockfordiana Files
"Stout Building for new Press." Register Republic 5-30-47 pg not available.
Rockford Standard Furniture:
Part of Rockford' s History
English Composition, Rock Valley College
English 101 NA1
25 November 2002
Rockford Standard Furniture
Rockford Standard Furniture, located at 1 100 Eleventh Street, was built in 1886
with a capital of only 75,000 dollars (Rockford 50,000). History records that Rockford
owes its furniture industry to the disastrous Chicago Fire of 1871 (Monahan, Robert).
Since the great Chicago Fire, furniture manufacturing in Rockford had boomed and so
did the city ("Rockford, Illinois"). Following the Civil War, hundreds of Swedish
immigrants had built tent cities, and made up twenty-five percent of the city's population
("Rockford, Illinois"). These immigrants brought not only their families, but also their
Rockford's history of furniture manufacturing started sixteen years earlier and
was at its peak. Rockford Standard Furniture was one of many furniture manufacturers
that spanned from Eleventh Street to Seventh Street along Railroad Avenue ( Rockford
Furniture Herald ). The Rockford Standard Furniture building alone spanned one entire
city block and contained 100,000 square feet of floor space (Benson Interview).
One of Rockford Standard Furniture's founding members was well known
Rockford citizen, PA. Peterson. He had already started the Union Furniture Company in
1876, as well as many other businesses, bringing experience and knowledge to the
company (Monahan, Robert). He had such a large interest in the furniture business in
Rockford that he would become known as the "Furniture King' (Monahan, Robert).
P. A. Peterson, F.E. Lundgren and H.L. Hultquist became the company's first officers
-'■ :■ . ■ ■
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. ■ ■ '
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In 1890, Rockford Standard Furniture was one of 78 furniture manufacturers in
Rockford ("Rockford 50,000"). However, the panic of 1893 played havoc with
Rockford's furniture factories, marry of which were Swedish owned and possessed little
capital to withstand financial depression. In a single day, 26 factories were wiped out
(Monahan, Robert). P. A. Peterson had a great financial interest and was left with
300,000 dollars in debt, but refused to go into bankruptcy (Monahan, Robert). Many
more would continue to fall by the wayside, but Rockford Standard Furniture continued
to survive. From 1894 through 1926 Rockford Standard Furniture continued to make
high quality furniture. The reputation and quality of Rockford Standard Furniture was
surely the reason the furniture manufacturer survived.
Then, in May, 1927 the Chief Executive Officer, Harry C. West, announced that
Rockford Standard Furniture would no longer manufacture furniture, but would go into
the furniture retail business instead ("Rockford 50,000"). In 1929, Harry West sold off
the remainder of the furniture manufacturing equipment and assets (Lundin 217). This
proved to be a great challenge for Rockford Standard Furniture showing no profit until
1934. By 1940, Rockford Standard Furniture was selling mattresses, sofas, floor
coverings and appliances. Although the building had four stories, only two floors would
be used for furniture sales and the remainder for storage. It took until 1973 for all four
stories of the original factory floor space to be opened (Lundin 217). In 1975, Harry
West retired from Rockford Standard Furniture (Lundin 217). In 1988, Rockford
■■ , ■ : ' ' • ■
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Standard Furniture celebrated its 100 year anniversary. For fifty eight years (1940-1998)
Rockford Standard Furniture was known for its high quality furniture, but also for
furniture of a lower quality as well. Rockford Standard Furniture continued to operate
until 1998 when it closed its doors forever (Lundin 217).
In 2001, with the purchase of the property by Benson Stone Company, and with
extensive restoration, the historic Rockford Standard Furniture building once again
reopened its doors to a new business (Benson Stone). Benson Stone Company purchased
the main buildings and several other surrounding buildings, totaling about a three-city-
block area (Benson Interview).
Unfortunately, Benson Stone Company was forced in 2002 to tear down the 80-
foot chimney due to age and excessive damage. Also, several other small buildings
beyond repair needed to be leveled (Benson Interview). Benson Stone Company moved
its headquarters from Parmelle Avenue to the main Rockford Standard Furniture building
(Benson Interview). Benson Stone Company currently uses only two stories of the
building as retail sales space, and the remainder of it for storage (Benson Interview).
Hearth Rock Cafe also occupies part of the building (owned and operated by Benson
Stone Company) (Benson Interview). The Hearth Rock Cafe's food and atmosphere is
astounding. The beauty of the exposed oak beams, hardwood floors and the smell of
home made breads are wonderful. Mr. Steve Benson said that, "the cafe specialty is the
home made breads and slow smoked pork".
■.■-.-■.;.■ ■•• ■ ■
Founded in 1930, Benson Stone Company is a fourth-generation, family-owned
business (Benson Interview). In the 1930s Benson Stone Company was primarily a cut
stone fabrication facility, producing Indiana limestone building stone (Benson Stone).
Today, the company offers retail and wholesale products such as landscaping stone,
fireplaces, barbecue grills, patio furniture and some leather sofa's (Benson Stone).
Benson Stone Company serves not only the local area, but also Northern Illinois and
Southern Wisconsin (Benson Stone). Mr. Steve Benson discussed information regarding
current use of the Rockford Standard Furniture building as well as the "possibility of
future furniture sales" (Benson Interview). Benson Stone Company would like to
complete restoration of the remaining floors and plans for future use are still being
considered (Benson Interview).
Although time has past, the building still stands. No longer can the echoes of
furniture manufacturing be heard. The building echoes a new sound, but still stands and
will for time to come.
. ■■■".. . ;
' ■ ; : - ',
Benson, Steve. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Benson Stone Co. Website. September 2002.
<http://www.bensonstone. com/aboutus. html>.
Daley, Charles Lee. The City of Rockford And-Her-Men . New Illinois Stationary
Company Printers, Rockford Illinois. 1 920.
Front of Benson Stone Company. Photo's by Scott Fisher. November 2002.
Furniture Map of Rockford. The Rockford Furniture Herald. April 1925.
Lundin, Jon W. Rockford. an Illustrated History . Windsor Publications Inc. 1989.
Monahan, Robert. "Business and Industry, Home Town Genius at Work". Winnebago
County, Illinois. Sinnissippi Saga. A History of Rockford and Winnebago
County. Illinois . Ed. Hal Nelson. 1968.
Rockford Furniture Herald . Rockford Furniture Manufacturers Association. Volume
3, Number 7. June 1927.
"Rockford, Illinois". Rockford Furniture Industry . Date Unknown.
Rockford Standard Furniture Building. Acquired from Steve Benson Interview. 1912.
"Rockford 50,000 1909-1910", Rockford Morning Star . Rockford, Illinois, Date
Rowe, Ford F. "Rockford Streamlined 1834-1941". Publisher Unknown. 1941.
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Furniture Herald APR- ■' ^-5
The Furniture Map of Rockford
Extent of Rockford Furniture Industry Indicated By Accompanying
Chart Showing Location 0/ Plants and
b'LESS one lias had an opportunity to do con-
piderable traveling about the city of Rockford,
it is difficult to comprehend the extent to which
Rockford furniture industry has grown. Even
:ure buyers who have made frequent trips to
ford have difficulty in visualizing just what the
ford furniture map looks like, for the factories
idely scattered throughout the community.
ockford has not only a large number of furniture
ries, but also many plants engaged in the manu-
re of products that are either used in or associated
(furniture. Includ a d in this latter group are plants
;ed in the manufacture of veneers, varnish and
ing materials, mirrors and cabinet hardware of
ockford not only makes furniture and articles that
to furniture construction, but also manufactures
ge number of wood-
n" machines""of various
1. West End Furn\ Co.
2. Rockford Furn. Co.
3. Continental Deak Co.
4. Blaekhawk Furn. Co.
5. Central Furn. Co.
6. Excel Mfg. Co.
7. Old Colon}- Chair Co.
8. Winnebago Mfg. Co.
9. Fibre KLraft Furn. Co.
10. Mechanics Furn. Co.
11. AI. Carlson Mfg. Co.
12. Rockford Chair it Furn.
Co.— Plant "B"
13. Rockford National Furn.
14. Rockford Superior Furn.
15. Royal Mantel & Furn.
16. Illinois Cabinet Co.
17. Empire Mfg. Co.
IS. Rockford World Furn.
19. Rockford Peerless Furn.
20. Rockford Cabinet Co.
21. Union Furn. Co.
22. Hanson Clock Co.
23. Rockford Standard Furn.
24. Rockford Cedar
25. Rockford Chair & Furn.
Co.— Plant "A"
26. Co-operative Furn. Co.
; that are
t e that a
oyed in the
a I manu-
re of fur-
e or some closely asso-
cl product, and it is safe
y that Rockford is one of
Mini ties in the country.
ie plants indicated on
urniturc map of Rockford
Rockford Palace Furn. Co.
Rockford Republic Furn. Co.
Rockford Furniture Manufacturers Assn.
Rockford Plate it Window Glass Co.
31. Rockford Eagle Furn. Co.
32. Rockford Desk Co.
33. Skandia Furn. Co.
34. Premier Furn. Co. — Office
35. Premier Furn. Co. — Factory
36. Rockford Showcase & Fixture Co.
37. Excel Manufacturing Co. — Showroom
37. Bishop Wholesale Furn. Co.
3S. National Mirror Works.
39. Rockford Novelty Furn. Co.
40. Rockford Reed & Fibre Co.
41. Forest City Phonograph Co.
42. National Lock Co.
43. Elco Tool &. Screw Coiporation.
44. Rockford Var-
4S. S c h u in a n u
49. The Pierson
Forever Changing- Rockview Quarry
English Composition 101, Rock Valley College
English 101 NA1
November 26, 2002
Forever Changing Quarry
Rockview Stone Quarry has been around for little more then twenty years. The
land its self has always been there. To look at the history of the quarry, one must look at
the history of the land itself. It has been through an interesting history itself. Everything
from legal conflicts to buggy whippings.
It started back in 1848 when Josiah Williams took claim to it (Chicago Insur.
Co.).Then for about one thousand dollars, a gentleman by the name of Henry Mix bought
it from Josiah Williams. After that, the land was sold to Maurice Fitzgerald. Originally
documented, the land had one hundred and thirteen acres. By the early 1900s the land had
been through a few legal conflicts that whittled it to eighty acres (Chicago Insur. Co.).
Before my grandfather bought the land, Clarence Reed owned and farmed the land.
(Chicago Insur. Co.).
When Don Swinson bought it back in 1965, it was nothing but prairie land
inhabited by everything from pheasants to coyotes (Swinson Interview). Then it was
transformed into a sod field; for the short time Don Swinson was into landscaping. "I
remember we had planted a nursery on west side to sell plants," recalls Joanne Swinson.
It lasted about seven years before Don Swinson transitioned into wrecking and
demolition, and stripping what would now be the quarry. What is left of the nursery now
looks like an over grown woods (Personal Experience). Before sod was grown it was
used as a junk antique dumping site by the farmers, who previously owned the land. Don
Swinson then started to clean that up and turn it into sod farm and stripping southern part
of the Property. Since 1970, Don Swinson started stripping down the top soil by machine
and using it for his jobs (Swinson Interview). He went until he hit the bedrock and
couldn't go any more deeper without drilling and blasting (Swinson Interview).
By 1980, Rockford Blacktop was in the area working on Baxter Rd. from a one
lane gravel road to a mini highway (Swinson Interview). They took an interest in the
property. Since Pagel Pit was a quarry at one time about twenty years ago, Rockford
Blacktop was looking for another gravel source since Pagel Pit was mined out of rock
(Asche Interview). They had found geologically the terrain changes with two miles of the
area, by testing random rock areas with in two miles range. Since Pagel Pit is not even a
mile away, Rockford Blacktop decided to mine as much limestone out of the newly
founded Rockview Quarry as they could. Don Swinson leased it out until spring of 2000
Physically the Quarry went from a ninety feet drop to a two hundred feet drop off.
The area the quarry takes up is approximately fifteen to twenty acres (Personal
Experience). Now since they hit water, they had to make springs to hold the water so it
would not turn into a premature lake (Asche Interview).
The object of quarrying as Mike Asche said, " Rockford Blacktop' s goal is to go
as deep into the bedrock as possible without disrupting the environment around it."
Which is what they have been doing for the past few years and doing good job of it. To
even start a quarry takes a lot of money and a lot of work. There are three phases needed
to go through the process of a quarry. The first phase is starting to strip the top soil off the
land, continuing until there is nothing but bedrock. After that is done, it is time to drill
and dynamite the bedrock. The next step is to clean up the rock and turn it into material
to sell (Asche Interview). Certain material is used for certain things. Such as road stone is
used for driveways and small roads. Some of the rock is watered down and mixed with
sand and used as base for building roads, buildings and embankments. The last phase into
getting started is making a ramp about thirty feet down and going deeper into layers of
bedrock (Asche Mike Interview).
As comes a changing a quarry must come a changing company. Rockford
Blacktop not only changed the quarry, but as a company has changed a lot. Rockford
Blacktop was started in 1 942 by Bill Howard; which since 1 984 is run by his son Chuck
Howard (Rockford Blacktop Website). About 1984, Chuck Howard took over his father's
business as head (Asche Mike, Interview). Today, Rockford Blacktop is one of the largest
construction companies in the Midwest. They own a majority of the quarries in the
Rockford area, not to mention most of the commercial land around (Personal
Experience). Now they employ today about three hundred and fifty workers (Rockford
Through developing shorter ways to process the rock into material the old ways,
which took days to do, now only take about three hours due to new methods. New
methods now have made quarrying more efficient now then twenty years ago, such as
excavators with ten yard buckets to dumping material into the dump trucks and semis.
Also with conveyor belts moving the material to its destination, there is no need for the
excavators to hand move anything anymore. Now with new equipment developing newer
and quicker methods are being discovered, safety has been a major on-going change for
Rockford Blacktop. Since some fatal accidents have happened with some of the heavy
machinery running; Rockford Blacktop is always coming up with better safety standards
In 1999, Don Swinson sold the Rockview Quarry he has owned since 1965 to
Rockford Blacktop for about one million, two hundred thousand dollars, which includes
the scale that trucks weigh out the material they haul out. Since Donald Swinson is
seventy years old he will be retiring next May of 2003. His business will be sold to a
young protege by the name of Will Hoff, currently going to Purdue University for an
engineering degree (Personal Experience).
With Rockford Blacktop running the Rockview Quarry, it will continue to forever
change the area around it. As long as the rock vain is still there and stone is mined from
it. The quarry will continue to build up the Rockford area even more than before for the
future. Once there is no stone left to mine from the quarry, Blacktop will have to fill it in
with backfill.(Backfill is any type of rock or material dirt anything used to fill something
in.) It may turn into the next "Pagel Pit" in the next fifteen years when it is mined out,
after years down the road it could be the next landfill for the Midwest. By EPA law they
will have to fill it in for environmental purposes as well as safety reasons (Asche
Asche, Mike. Personal Experience. November 2002.
Chicago Insurance Company. "Abstract Title Wl/2 NE l A Section 3 1 -342" #17733.
Coon, Alana Interview. November 2002.
Rockford Blacktop Corporate Profile. September 27 2002.. Available
Swinson, Joanne, Personal Experience. September 2002.
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ROLLING GREEN/MUHL CENTER
, A FOUNDATION BUILT FOR
Rock Valley College
Rolling Green/Muhl Center
A Foundation Built For Building Minds
Rolling Green School is not just a building; it is a building with a heart, a heart
that flows through-out its arteries of hallways. The flow is the many children that
attend the school. Children from all walks of life, some very special and unique
children, whom have been blessed by Muhl Center.
Plans to build Rolling Green School in 1949, helped to bring growth to the
Rolling Green community. In the'50s it was home for many middle-class families, and
still is today.
Rolling Green School was conceived due to annexation. Growth in the late '40s
and early '50s brought a need for more schools. Personal income nearly tripled
between 1940 and 1955. As the city limits continued to push out-ward,
accommodations needed to be made for the expanding city. Other schools to be built
at this time along with Rolling Green were Haskell, Maud Johnson, Conklin, and
Lathrop Elementary School. In 1950 the Rockford census was 92,927 people, growing
to 105,438 in 1952, making Rockford the fastest growing city in Illinois (Cunningham
When the first bids for the Rolling Green School came in, the Board found
them to be about $ 40,000 over the funds available. Eight general contractors
submitted bids, ranging from a high of $578,000 to the low of $459,777. The low bid
was from Holm-Page Company. At that time, Gilbert A. Johnson, architect for the
building, was to meet with school officials to determine what could be eliminated from
the plans to reduce the cost ("Bids On School").
In March of 1950 the contract was awarded to Holm Page Company. The
contract totaled $446,410. Decisions had been made in order to bring down the cost
of the original bid. It was decided to keep the exterior glass blocks where specified
because substitution of plain glass would have increased heating costs and required the
purchase of window shades. Murals, fireplaces, and a play porch were removed from
Exterior glass blocks, windows in kindergarten rm.
the kindergarten specifications. Folding
JJ-if bleachers and a suspended ceiling were
j^ eliminated from the gymnasium specifications,
and the installation of cases below classroom
windows were also omitted. Blackhawk
Electric Company received a $25,552 electrical contract and the Johnson
Service Company was awarded a $47,874 temperature control contract ("Let $610,525
In the school's 51 -year history, it has had only five
principals. The first principal, Miss Evelyn Anderson, served at
Rolling Green School for almost 25 years.
Miss Evelyn Anderson
Principal Miss Anderson, was born in Rockford, and attended Turner and Kishwaukee
School as a young girl, and graduated from Rockford Central High School. She
entered Northern Illinois State to become a teacher, and also attended Rockford
College, the University of Wisconsin, the University Of Illinois, and Northern
University (Olson).Miss Anderson first taught at Highland School of Rockford,
teaching fourth graders. She served as principal to Wight and Sovereign School before
her term as principal of Rolling Green (Olson).
: (l^^^^^^^P^i Opening day presented new challenges for the
new school. One such problem developed as a result
of the large number of children riding bicycles
toschool. The bikes created a traffic problem of their
^flfjj ffilfr ^nEeiffjB £ga own and a danger to children on foot. The problem
Patrolmen at Rolling Green School 1951
was met by a group of sixth grade boys who acted as traffic directors and watch bikes
parked in racks, to prevent tampering ("467 Boys and Girls").
Miss. Anderson, who was also principal of the 62-year-old Wight
School, noted the marked contrast between the buildings, but pointed out that old
schools have a mellowness and tradition which new schools must build up. "In either
case", she added, "it is the quality of the education given within the walls that really
count" ("467 Boys and Girls").
Rolling Green School opened her doors in September of 1951, with 16 brand
new classrooms, surrounded by sturdy, proud brick. Each classroom was equipped with
its own sink, cupboards, and black-boards, which were no longer black, but green. The
kindergarten rooms with their round bay windows, tee-ter-totters, and jungle gyms,
also had their own bathrooms. The coat rooms of old were a thing of the past, now
replaced with lockers, some in hallways, and some in the rooms. The metal lockers in
the rooms operated simultaneously. As one was opened or closed they all would
respond. Another extra was the double gymnasium with a folding partition, along with
a stage. The lunchroom had tables and benches that folded up into the walls ("467
Boys and Girls").
Enrollment was 467 students. City-wide
enrollment for grades one through six was 6,423.
JMsik: Parents at this time could outfit their child for
Bntfl under $4.00, and a four bedroom home in the
Ife^^ Rolling Green area went up for sale at $13,650,
Kick lining-up at the brand-new school ("New Pupils Welcomed"; "Classifieds")
It was reported by the custodian, Herbert Buetsch, that the tunnels under the
building that carried all the schools heating, lighting, and plumbing supply, were easy
to get turned around in. To date Rolling Green and only one other school are setup
with this underground system ("467 Boys and Girls").
I <UJ £.•---
i i l
Utility tunnels under Rolling Green School 2002
In 1963 after the children returned from Christmas break, a new addition was
opened. Workmen assembled new desks to fill the new eight-room addition over the
Christmas break. Principal Evelyn Anderson said, "The addition would relieve
overcrowding, a condition that had progressively worsened during the past two
years."("12 New Classrooms").
Eight classrooms added 1 963
1963 addition to Rolling Green 2002
In 1970, Rolling Green took on a major $919,033 addition that was not a part
of the existing school, yet connected to by bricks, named Muhl Center. This Center
was added on to provide facilities for more than 200 Rockford special education
students. There was access from one school to the other with connecting halls. Muhl
Center, with its sixteen new classrooms, a heated swimming pool, a learning center,
conference, work, and multi-purpose rooms, added a new dimension to the to the 19 -
year old Rolling Green building. The building was named in honor of William Muhl,
a long time advocate for physically and mentally
impaired students. Mr. Muhl was not only the
founder of the center, but principal of the center for
three years. He "retired" after twenty five years of
service with the Rockford School District in
Ground-breaking for Muhl Center.
Ms Anderson, Mr. Muhl, and others.
June of 1973. Mr. Muhl died three years later of a heart attack while teaching
swimming at a summer camp. Muhl was 68 years old (Jenusevic Interview; "William
■ ' ' ' '■ " - ,
Back of Muhl Center 2002
Nancy Anderson, who still lives in the Rolling Green area, and serves the
community as the Eighth Ward Alderwomen, was one of Rolling Green School's first
students. Nancy was a member of the first kindergarten class in 1951. Nancy pointed
out that back then kindergarten was different in the '50s. Back then, there was no
"Sesame Street" or preschool for them. Kindergarten was a half-day and very basic,
almost like daycare, and more oriented towards social training, not like today where
kindergarteners are taught colors, numbers, reading, and writing. This is evident to
this writer who has seen pictures of the original kindergarten classroom, with its
abundant play equipment, to its rooms now that are full of learning aids, word walls,
charts, and graphs, with no play equipment to be found other than outside, or in the
gym (Johnson Interview).
Growing up on Colorado Street, her backyard to the school, Nancy said,
"Before Muhl Center, the park had tennis courts where the Muhl center parking lot is
now. The Rolling Green play ground was where the center is now." She recalled the
addition in 1963 to Rolling Green School. At that time she was in high school, at East
High. East was the only other school with the underground utility system. Nancy
could not remember if she ever went down in the tunnels at Rolling Green, but said,
"It was possible." Tours were given to some pupils. This writer was given a tour by the
Rolling Green janitorial staff, and found it to be an unforgettable experience, bent
over, walking through the windy tunnels with pipes over head, as the air was being
pulled through. Going through a series of small doors, much like Alice, in "Alice In
Wonderland", being careful to open and close the doors at the appropriate time so that
the air pressure would equalize (Johnson Interview).
Nancy moved away after finishing school, but returned to Colorado two doors
down from her parent's house in 1975, where she remains today. Muhl Center was
then five years old. She recalled in the '80s, the two schools were integrated, and some
parents, and students, were uncomfortable at first, due to change and just trying to
adapt. Now it is so combined one would never know. Nancy stated that the diversity
of children bring such a vitality to the neighborhood. She notices the smiles of victory
as the children overcome challenges, and obstacles. When asked about being one of the
original students of Rolling Green, and her close ties to the school, she replied, "I
remember being excited, but being five years old the full impact wasn't felt until later"
In June of 1993, the Rolling
Green-Muhl Center got another change,
the addition of a new playground, with a
new twist. It was a wheelchair-accessible
playground. A cooperative project
sponsored by the P.T.O, School District,
and the Park District. It was the result of
Opening-day of the new playground 1993
a four year endeavor. Now the play ground is mainstreamed much like the classroom at
the schools, with no barriers. Children can now push their friends in wheelchairs up a
ramp that connects to the playground equipment. Kids in wheelchairs can now zip
along a blacktop track with their peers as well ("Not Just Another Playground").
Another grand exterior addition was added to the schools in 1999, a dream
child of Mary Suhr, a teacher at the school, who recognized and requested the need for
a safe playground for her hearing impaired preschoolers. The children needed a
smaller, enclosed, safe area to play. The existing one did not meet these needs. Mary
contacted administrators to seek approval to build the playground. She held special
meetings to gain parental support and encouraged them to help raise money for the
project. Mary contacted various corporations, organizations, and individuals seeking
donations. At times Mary was frustrated, as the goal of $18,000.00 seemed out of
reach. However she never gave up. During this time she researched playgrounds,
studying different equipment. She then contacted a contractor who specialized in
playgrounds. Mary herself, along with her family, spent many of hours outside
measuring and planning. Mary was ecstatic when all the money was raised on Oct.
1998. She immediately ordered the equipment (Suhr Interview).
The construction was delayed several times due to rain and floods. Often she
would be seen out there after school pumping water out of the play area. She and the
crew worked three weekends and nights after school. This was a monumental
undertaking! The children were thrilled when they finally got to play on it in late
November. Every thing is just their size, and the children are in a smaller, contained,
and safe area now. Preschoolers for many years to come will enjoy the fruits of Mary
Suhr's labor (Suhr, Interview).
Due to her efforts Mary Suhr received the "Extra Mile Award", and the "Those
Who Excel Award" in 1999 ("Schools Reward"; "Rockford Teacher").
ROLLING GREEN ELEMENTARY CELEBRATES 50 YEARS
In April 2002
celebrated her 50
anniversary, and Muhl
Center her 20 .
was there along with a
Aid. Nancy Johnson finds her picture displayed
students, and teachers. Mayor Box spoke at the event. Nancy recalled that many of her
constituents went here or have children here. She said, "This school really does hold
the neighborhood together." Nancy also stated, "I'm thrilled to see how well it's being
taken care of." The preservation of the school is a testament to the 73-year-old Rolling
Green neighborhood, one of the few to have a school named after it ("Johnson
Interview"; "Students, Teachers"; "Rolling Green").
There have been changes to the buildings known as Rolling Green - Muhl
Center. Rolling Green's original office is now the Northern Illinois Association office,
and the main (Rolling Green) Office is in Muhl center. The metal lockers in the rooms
that operated simultaneously as one would be opened or closed, are now disconnected,
due to safety reasons. The lunch tables in the Rolling Green original building are now
permanently secure to the wall for safety reasons as well. Other tables are used now in
Burd 1 1
their place. The gym's folding partition is still up and running after 50 years, but every
now and then they need servicing. Servicemen must come all the way from Milwaukee.
The desegregation of the two schools has influenced growth, and change from
diversity to acceptance. Growth in turn has give birth to quality. Rolling Green - Muhl
Center is a place our children can be built up.
Rolling Green School has served her community well, educating, and building
up its growing population of eager young bodies, and minds, and influencing even
more growth in her foundation, and community. Rolling Green School has changed in
many ways over the years, and yet the life- giving blood remains that flows through it.
The diversity of children continues to bring life to the building, along with its
dedicated and passionate staff.
Rolling Green School
Rolling Green School
Rolling Green School
Muhl Center Addition
"12 New Classroom Open Today At Rolling Green, Haskell Schools" Rockford Morning
Star Jan . 3, 1963.
"50 th . Anniversary", Students, Teachers Relive Memory Rockford Register Star April 3,
2000, Photographer Eddy Monville.
"467Boys and Girls Enrolled for Initial Tear of school" Rockford Morning Star Sept. 30,
"1963 Addition" Photographer , this writer.
"Back of Muhl Center" Photographer , this writer.
"Bid On School Exceed Funds $40,000 Too High" Rockford Morning Star . Feb. 23,
"Classifieds" Rockford Morning star . Sept. 7, 1951.
"Coming Home To Rolling Green", Personal interview. (news-clipping)-photographer
Cunningham, Pat, "Big Town Little City" Bannon Multimedia Group 2000.
"Eight new classrooms", 12 New Classroom Open Today At Rolling Green, Haskell
Schools Rockford Morning Star Jan . 3, 1963, Photographer unknown.
"Glass blocks" Rockford Morning Star . Sept. 30, 1951 - photographer unknown.
"Ground Break" Personal interview. (news-clipping),Photographer unknown.
Jenusevic, Kathy. Personal interview. Aug.30,2002.
Johnson, Nancy. Personal interview. Oct. 18, 2002.
Rockford Morning Star Sept. 30, 1 95 1, Photographer unknown.
"Let $610,525 Rolling Green School Jobs" Rockford Morning Star . March 3, 1950.
"Line up" Rockford Morning Star . Sept. 7, 1951 - photographer unknown.
"Miss Anderson" Photographer unknown.
"Miss Anderson" Rolling Green Flash . Sept. 17, 1951 (school paper) Photographer
"New Pupils Welcomed in City School" Rockford Morning Star . Sept. 7, 1951.
"Not Just Another Playground" Rockford Register Star June 3, 1993.
"Not Just Another Playground" Rockford Register Star June 3, 1993 Photographer , Eddy
Olson, Janice Rolling Green Flash . Sept. 17, 1952 (school's paper).
"Opening-day", "Not Just Another Playground", Rockford Morning Star June 3,1993.
"Patrolmen" Rockford Morning Star . Sept, 30, 1951 - photographer unknown.
"Preschool Playground" Illustration and photos obtained by Personal interview Mary
"Rockford Teacher Gets State Honor" Rockford Register Star Sept. 17, 1999.
"Rolling Green Marks 50 Years Of Change, Diversity, Quality" Rockford Register Star
"Schools Reward Involvement" Rockford Register Star April 23,1999.
"Students Teachers Relive Memories" Rockford Register Star April 3, 2002.
Suhr, Mary. Personal interview. Oct. 25, 2002.
"Utility Tunnels", photographer, Karie Burd.
"William Muhl, Educator, Dies" Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Library.
Rolling Green Elementary
Where No Child Is Left Behind
Rock Valley College
Rolling Green Elementary
The building of Rolling Green Elementary was a solution to a growing and
overcrowded Rockford Public School system. The city had to do something with the
population at right around 90,000 people and growing. Welsh and Hallstrom Elementary
schools had exceeded their capacity limits for students ("Rockford History...").
Located on a 20-acre lot at 3615 Louisiana Rd, Rolling Green Elementary is
located on the southeast side of Rockford, in a very family-oriented neighborhood by the
name of Rolling Green. Rolling Green stands out with its well-kept lawn and one-story
building. Its architectural design is not like any other school. Around the back there is a
new playground and cemented area for the children to use during P.E. class and recess. In
the front of the building there is a very large area big as a football field with Rolling
Green's sign. Also in the front of the building is a big flagpole. For security purposes all
visitors must go through the doors in the circular drive and check in at the office directly
to the right inside.
Front View of Rolling Green Elementary
(Personal Photo by Author)
In October of 1945, the Agreement for Deed was made up between the Rockford
Board of Education and the property owners, Jennie Sophia Garrett and Thomas Garrett
("Winnebago"). This school would be named after the area it was built in. Gilbert A.
Johnson, Rockford school architect knew just exactly what needed to be done. Rolling
Green Elementary would be the newest addition to the Rockford Public School District.
Finally on November 19, 1949, after four years of planning, the Rockford Public
school district hired Anderson Bros. Contractors to grade and level the 20-acre site
located on Louisiana Road. The following fall, the school opened with one wing
operational that had 16 classrooms for the school children to use ("Rolling Green
In November 195 1, the school had been opened one year for students, W. Ray
Mcintosh, Rockford Superintendent announced that Rolling Green Elementary would be
opened and dedicated to public inspection on Sunday December 2, 1951. Lawrence A.
Johnson, chairman of the buildings and grounds committee of the Rockford Board of
Education would be presiding at the dedication of Rolling Green ("Dedication.... 1 ').
By 1962, there was an enrollment of 715 pupils and more classrooms were
desperately needed ("City School Enrollment..."). In January of 1963 there were eight
classrooms and washroom facilities added on. Because of the addition to the school, the
Rockford Public School District contemplated turning Rolling Green into a junior high
school. There were also thoughts on using eight acres of the land that Rolling Green sat
on to build another elementary school if the junior high school proposal went through
("$4.36 Million School..."). All of these proposals were turned down.
In the 1960s, there was a lot of discussion about the physically and mentally
handicapped children. Concerned parents were worried that their children would not be
able to receive the adequate kind of attention and supplies they would need in the school
system. In March of 1960, William Muhl, the principal of Freeman school for the
handicapped presented a speech about handicapped children. He said, "Handicapped
children want to be apart of, not apart from the rest of society" ("Special Ed
In October of 1970, the Rockford Public Schools decided that they would open up
a Special Education Center at Rolling Green. Today, this is known as the Muhl Center
known today. This addition included a 40x60-foot swimming pool and a second
gymnasium. This center accommodated children with physical and mental handicaps. It
is a center for children with hearing impairments. The total cost of this new addition on
Rolling Green was $1 million. Allen, Patton, and Associates did all designs. Scandroli
Construction Co. was responsible for building it ("Special Ed Center...").
Since the addition was made for the Muhl Center, Rolling Green was not worked
on again until 1978 when the Rockford School District went around to all the public
schools and did estimates on repairs for the buildings. It was estimated that it would take
59,000 dollars to make repairs on Rolling Green ("School Repair Bills...").
In June of 1993, Rolling Green opened up their wheelchair accessible playground.
This was a great opportunity for the children with special needs not only to interact with
the other students in the classroom but also outside of the classroom. They had a budget
of around 58,000 dollars. This was achieved through fundraisers, donations, and a grant
from the State Department of Energy and Natural Resources ("Special Ed Evolves. . .").
Today, Rolling Green has a total of 69 classrooms. There are 5 10 students and 40
certified employees (Jansen). Rolling Green School has a kindergarten through 5th grade
elementary program which includes self-contained and resource classes for students who
have learning disabilities, speech and language concerns, or who are physically, mentally,
socially, emotionally, hearing, or visually impaired. Rolling Green Elementary School is
one of the first schools to initiate mainstreaming and inclusion of special education
students into regular education classrooms ("Rolling Green"). The writer of this essay has
a child that attends Rolling Green. Because of the Muhl Center being a part of this
elementary school it has given the writer's daughter a chance to interact on a daily basis
with children that have special needs. This has given her child the chance to experience
many new things that a child would not experience if attending a different elementary
school. Rolling Green understands that the children with special needs do not want to be
left out. Because of this Rolling Green offers sign language clubs to teach the children so
they can interact more efficiently with the special education students.
■ . ■ : *
.■•:.' — ■■ --h i . .
4 . **sk* :*» IStl
Rolling Green Elementary
(Personal Photo By Author)
"$4.36 Million School Building Plan Studied." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools Folder. 1963.
"Dedication to New School." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools Folder. 1951.
Jansen, Virginia. Interview. 1 November 2002.
Front View of Rolling Green Elementary. Personal Photo by Author. October 2002.
"Rockford History 1950-1954." Welcome to Rockford Illinois. Website.
"Rolling Green." Profiles of Schools. Website.
Rolling Green Elementary. Personal Photo by Author. October 2002.
"Rolling Green Site Grading Contract Let." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools Folder. 1949.
"School Repair Bills in Millions Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools Folder. 1978.
"Special Ed Center Plans Open House." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools - Special Folder. 1970.
"Special Ed Children." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools - Special Folder. 1960.
"Special Ed Evolves." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana
Files. Rockford Public Library. Schools - Special Folder. 1993.
"Winnebago County." Agreement For Deed. October 22, 1945.
OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
English 101, Rock Valley College
November 20, 2002
English 101, NC
OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center
The development of OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center was required by the
society and the growth of population. Since 1898, Rockford had been growing, starting
to build more buildings such as a courthouse, train station, and a dancing school. They
opened one hospital in "Rockford city on the west side with ten beds in 1885" (Gustafson
9), but in the east they needed to have one more hospital. The population was growing in
later years, so they had to make the hospital bigger.
"The Rockford Saint Anthony Hospital was first promoted by the late William
Crotty in 1898-1899. At that time, the old Schmauss homestead at the top of the East
State Street hill was offered for sale for $12,000" (St. Anthony... 5). Mr. Crotty and
many of the doctors and church people of the city raised $6,000 toward the purchase of
the big brick building and the six sisters who were first in charge of the effort obtained a
loan of $6,000 from the mother house in Peoria. This money was to be paid back to the
mother house without interest and in as large installments as the sisters here could raise.
(The six sisters came from Germany to Iowa in 1875. In 1876, six sisters were sent by
mother M. Xavier to establish a hospital in Illinois, then the sisters visited Rockford to
decide that they could start another hospital in the city)- "The six sisters transformed a
home into a hospital" (Gustafson 1 0). They remodeled everywhere in the house to turn in
a hospital, after they finished remodeling the hospital, "the hospital was ready to open"
(Gustafson 10). "In just five months of operation, the hospital had cared for 71 patients,
the next year there were up to 200 patients" (Gustafson 1 1 ).
The population in Rockford was growing, and the Saint Anthony Hospital was
also growing. In 1915, the sisters decided to open a nurse training school. The College
of Nursing became a four-year institution, and "by the year 1915, there were 2,502 nurses
had graduated. In the beginning of 1922, the Nurses Training School was renamed Saint
Anthony Hospital School of Nursing" (Gustafson 15). In 1918, the Swedish American
Hospital was opened on Charles Street, next to Saint Anthony Hospital. There were 55
beds with the cost $175,000. They opened another hospital because there were too many
patients, so the physicians could easily take care of the patients.
In 1959, the sisters decided to remodel the hospital into a nursing home, and build
the new hospital at a different area. When Ralph Baudhuin, Lou Bachrodt, Jim Dunn,
and Bishop looked at the site, they all agreed that the site was the right place to build a
new building. "The site was the Corlett family farmland for more than a century"
(Gustafson 24). Beth Habbits is one of the daughters of the Corletts; she said that her
father dealt with the hospital, so that is why they sold it to the sisters. The site cost about
$ 169,582. "For the first time in 60 years, Saint Anthony Hospital asked the community
for financial help. They asked the citizens of Rockford for $2.5 million toward their $4.5
million goal" (Gustafson 26). The new hospital was about five miles away from the old
hospital, and placed next to the new Rockford College.
They started the construction in October of 1960. The new hospital had three
floors and a basement, "The sisters were scheduled to be ready and move in by May
1963, but the construction was going well, and the building was completed ahead of
schedule for months" (Gustafson 27). They moved to the new hospital on February 2,
1963. Before they moved in, new equipment was delivered at the new hospital; only
some of the old equipment was relocated. "One week before they moved in, the sisters
invited the public to an open house at the new hospital. There were 19,000 people in
attendance" (Gustafson 28). When they moved the supplies to the new hospital,
everything had to be moved carefully. "Paul Lindstedt was a member of the advisory
board and district commercial manager of the Illinois Bell. He helped plan to move
equipment and patients" (Gustafson 28). The old and the new hospital, only five miles
apart, required them to make more than 30 trips to move everything. Of course, they
needed a lot of help. There were members of the General Chauffeurs and Sale Drivers
local 325 people and Mild & Ice Cream Drivers and Local Employees 482 volunteered to
spend their time to help" (Gustafson 28).
"In 1963, there were 200 beds, requiring having enough heat, enough electricity,
and the air conditioning. They built the unique aluminum honeycomb screens to deflect
the sunrays to help the building keep cooler and help reduce air conditioning expenses.
The cost of the screens was about $ 1 50,000. They planned are to add a fourth floor
In front of the building, there is a big parking lot that could contain hundreds of
cars. In the middle of the parking lot, especially in the evening, night-lights start to light
up just like the stars in the sky. The building is uphill, and the parking lot is downhill,
about nine steps of stairs to the building. Beside the stairs, one could walk by the round
sidewalk, too. On both sides of the stairs and sidewalk, there are many kinds of flowers
with different colors, and some tall trees are in the middle of these flowers.
The building is like big square blocks put together. Some square blocks are
bigger than the others, with white-yellowish bricks. On the very top of the building there
are squares smaller than at the bottom, and white. Glass windows surround the building
with fences covering half of the windows. There are two front porches attach to the
building. The one on the left was open and supporting its roof with brick, one on the
right was covering around like a building, with some of the glass windows and attach to
the door to enter to the building. Up above on the right porch, there are two statues. One
is a young man holding a child, and one is an old man, and they are standing. The words
OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center with white color sticks to the top outside of the right
porch. To the left of the hospital, about a few steps apart, there is a Saint Anthony
College Of Nursing for those people to get training to become a nurse at OSF.
Some similarities are that the old and the new building are in the same city. The
old building was located on East State Street and the new building is also located on East
State Street, but they are about five miles apart from each other. The old building had
three floors; the new building also had three floors when it was first built. In recent
years, a fourth floor has been added to the new building. "Both buildings have an
operating room for major surgery, one for minor operations, one for eye, ear and throat
treatment, delivery rooms, operating room for emergency cases, an X-ray department,
and a clinical laboratory to help all the patients with their sickness" (Cicero Interview).
Both buildings' outside walls were made of pale-yellow brick. Both buildings were built
because they were needed by the city to "show their love for god in a practical way,
caring for the sick, the poor, the injured, aged, and dying, with compassion and love"
The old and the new building have some similarities, but there are also some
differences between them. First of all, although both buildings were on East State Street,
they were in different areas. There was a reason that the current site was chosen to build
the new building. "At the new building area was quieter than at the old building area.
For example, the new building area was not near the road, so the patients could not get
bothered by the sound of the cars running around.
"The land was larger and more convenient for all the people in town to get there
more easily than the old building. The parking lot at the new building was bigger than at
the old building, so could contain hundred of cars" (Cicero Interview). "The new
building was built larger than the old building. The new building was built because the
development of the hospital, the number of patients of hospital was growing so they
needed more room for the patients" (Shah Interview).
Because the population was growing in Rockford, and there were many people
getting sick, they had to build a new building that was large enough for all the people in
town. "The new building has more new modern equipment than the old building. For
example, in 1915, when the nurses updated the patient s chart, they had to update it by
hand by writing on a paper, but today at the new hospital, they update the patient's chart
by the computer. Even the operating machine, X-ray machine and many machines used
more modems than before at the old hospital.
Before the old hospital did not have a helicopter for an emergency, only an
ambulance, but today is different. For example, if anyone really has an emergency, they
use the helicopter because it only takes a few minutes to get to a patient who need an
emergency" (Tim Interview).
Those are all the reasons why and how they built this building. This is an
important structure in Rockford because it is a tremendous help to the people in this city.
This wonderful building helps people in times of need and sickness. This building is
English 101, NC
October 18, 2002
Cicero, Sally. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Gustafson, Gerrie, editor: The History of OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, 100 Yrs of
the Healing Spirit. Copyright 1999 OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.
Lim, Edison. Personal Interview. October 2002.
"OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". No date
available. OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center Women's Center. 9 September
2002. < http://www.osfhealth.com/history.html >.
OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. Rockford, Illinois. Photo by Dave Friedrich,
Rockford Register Star. Date of photo unknown.
"Saint Anthony's Health Center". No date available. History. 9 September 2002.
< http://www.sahc.org/history.html >.
Shah, Aruna. Personal Interview. October 2002.
"St. Anthony". 8 November 1993. Saint Anthony Medical Center. 9 November 2002.
St. Anthony's Hospital, Rockford, Illinois 1899-1924. Pamphlet. 6 August 1986.
The Schmauss home before it was
converted into Saint Anthony Hospital
The Sisters who opened the Hospital in 1899,
photographed at the Hospital's 25th Anniversary
The first chape! in the Hospital, 1899
New chapel in West Wing, 1915
. i mi
Architects' rendering of the "new" Saint Anthony Hospital,
5666 East State Street
, (! f
Background - Part of the precisely scheduled truck runs to avoid botttlenecks at either end.
Inset photos - Nurses and volunteers help move small, delicate items as well as large, bulky equipment.
Whether working alongside lay staff members or bringing cheer
to patients, the Sisters help make OSF Saint Anthony Medical
Center a comforting experience.
tamonb in tfje
(grace SIbamg. rJS
JXock 19allep College
Jf all 2002
Eng. 101 RRM
24 November 2002
A Diamond in the Rough
Saint Patrick Catholic Church
This journey is to educate and enlighten. The phrase "Upon this Rock"(Jude) comes
to mind, that all is possible if one has faith. Through the rubble of the past one
can find the building blocks of the future. St. Patrick is the perfect example of
this statement. To be original, to evolve, and to become great is the perfect stepping
stones of what will be. The simple beginnings of this church, to a great influence in the
community and the strength that is St. Patrick's church is all about commitment.
St. Patrick started from the very humblest beginnings. The year was 1919 and the
population of Rockford was growing. People on the West Side were gathering together
to celebrate their faith. The people gathered in the hall of St. Thomas High School. This
was a temporary place for the church. The pastor of this time was Rev. Walter J. Scollin,
who had just returned from World War I as service chaplain. On August 31, 1 9 1 9, the
community gathered together to celebrate their first mass. There were 310 families (S.P.
"50" Years). The people gathered together, but there was no name for this
church. A meeting was held with the parishioners to decide the name. The honor was
given to James O'Brien to name the church, because he had donated $1000 to the
building fund for the church to be built (S.P. "50" Years). He picked the name St.
Patrick in memory of his father Patrick O'Brien who traveled 14 miles every Sunday to
attend Mass in Rockford (S.P. "50" Years).
G. Adams 2
It was Bishop Peter J. Muldoon who purchased four adjoining lots as the
site for the new church, two on West State Street and two on Royal Avenue at the cost of
$13,500 (S.P. "50" Years). The ground was broken in May, 1920 and the
construction was completed the second week of November 1920 at the cost of $26,500.
The first mass was held on November 14, 1920 (S.P. "50" Years). The church was
very simple and small. It looked like a World War I chapel. The altar inside was small
and so were the statues. They were made of wood and were very beautiful (Adams Int.).
The growth in the parish continued. The growth was tremendous, still it was obvious the
this church that was built would also be a temporary place of worship (S.P. "50" Years).
Next, it was decided that the need for a more permanent place was obvious.
The Pastor at this time was Fr. Laurence C. Pendergast, who saw the continued growth of
this parish. With this in mind, Fr. Pendergast made a vigorous campaign to build a new
church and rectory. After careful campaigning, Fr. Pendergast" s dream came true. Then,
the task was to find a location for the church that could serve the people in the West End.
Then, ten acres of land were purchased on the northwest corners of School St. and
Johnston Ave. The support of the people was tremendous. This new church was to be a
living testimony of their faith. It was to be a symbol of extreme beauty for the service of
God (S.P."50" Years). This new church was not to be built only for practical purposes of
worship. The purpose was to elevate the mind and heart to spiritual enlightenment. This
church was to be outstanding in grandeur and sublimity (S.P. Dedication).
G. Adams 3
Next, ground was broken for the new church on June 8, 1950.
It was time for the construction of this massive building. The church was to be
141 feet x 65 feet and was to accommodate over 750 worshippers. The new St. Patrick's
was to be modified Gothic architecture, with arches pointing heavenward like hands
pressed together in prayer (S.P. Dedication). The skeletal structure of the church
was made of steel and reinforced concrete. The finished outside was Indiana limestone
(S.P. "50" Years). The architects were K.M. Vitzthum and J. & J. Burns. Doing
the construction of this site was Joseph J. Duffy Co., Wilson Electric Co. of Rockford did
the electrical work in the building. Wagner Bros, did the beautiful stained glass
windows. William J. Anderson Construction Co. great masonry work (S.P. Dedication).
This icon was an amazing task. The church is enormous. The church has a large
sanctuary, two sacristies, and a choir room, a mothers' room, baptistery, office,
lavatories, and a vestibule (S.P. "50"Years). The statues are made of marble and are life
size. The stained glass windows are breath taking and they represent different ethnic
backgrounds. On the West Side, one window presents St. Anthony for the Italian people.
St. Stanislaus is pictured for the Polish. St. Casimir appears in a window for the
Lithuanian parentage. St. Bridget of Sweden is representative of the Scandinavian. St.
Patrick is in east window for the Irish. The East side windows also represent the sisters
and priest who labored at St. Patrick's. For Dominican Sisters of Sinisinawa St. Dominic
is shown. For priests St. Walter is pictured for Fr. Scollin, St. Francis de Sales for Fr.
Francis Keenan. St. Lawrence for Fr. Laurence Pendergast, and St. Francis of Assisi for
Fr. Francis McNalley (S.P. "50" Years). The Stations of the Cross are absolutely
G. Adams 4
breath taking; they are the originals from an artist in Chicago which were donated by Fr.
Pendergast's brother (S.P. "50" Years). Each altar inside was laid with marble and
brass, the craftsmanship on these are stunning. Everything about the new St. Patrick's is
larger than life. The cost of this icon when finished was over $600,000. There were no
conflicts except the weather once in a while (S.P. Dedication).
The community of this church was very excited. This church was a symbol of their
commitment and devotion to their faith and to the community. The new Church was a
sign of times. It promoted what accomplishments could be possible. The Church was
completed on May 10, 1952. The first mass and dedication of the new St. Patrick Church
was on May 20, 1952 (S. P. Dedication). There were around 1000 or more people in
attendance, all were overjoyed and full of pride at their achievement
The contributing pastors of the time were as follows: Rev. Walter J. Scollin, the
founding priest of the parish. Fr. Scollin watched a no name group of people evolve into
St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Then, there was Rev. Francis J. Keenan, a
man with tremendous commitment to the parish (Adams Int.). Fr. Keenan had
great aspirations to make sure a school would be built for these supportive people. The
school was built and completed (S.P. tk 50"Years). Rev. Pendergast started the new
construction of this great church. Rev. Francis McNalley was very insistent that there be
a school be built for this growing parish (S.P. tw 50"Years). Unfortunately, Fr.
McNalley was killed in a plane crash in Oct. 1957. By 1969, a great priest named Fr.
G. Adams 5
McDonnell was the pastor of St. Patrick. He was the seventh and the longest staying
pastor of St. Patrick (S.P. Church of 1997).
One of the biggest assets St. Patrick's has to offer is the community involvement. It is
an intricate part of every day life for the people who live around there as well as for the
church. St. Patrick's has The Food Pantry, which gives food to people
who need it. It has the Clothes Closet, which provides clothes for those in need. St.
Patrick's also has the Hispanic group and the black ministry group. Along with those it
has the Silver Shamrocks, Holy Name Society, Caritas, and neighborhood organizations.
St. Patrick has started the Legion of Mary which is the army of Mary Immaculate. The
members offer their services to Pastor to aid him in bringing souls to Jesus. All of these
ministries and groups help to provide a better life for the people in the community
(S.P. Directory 1992).
St. Patrick's has always been well diverse community (S.P. "50"Years). The people
involved in these groups are all volunteers from the church and community. The
community gives back to the church and vise versa. 'There is not another church in the
Rockford Diocese that can do what St. Patrick's already does for the community "(Adams
Int.). "No other church in Rockford could even attempt to accomplish what St. Patrick's
has accomplished" (Barb Pierce Int.).
The church of St. Patrick is an epic sign of devotion and sacrifice of all the people
who made it happen. From simple beginnings to great accomplishments, that is what is
possible if one believes. Something this divine has much more to discover and give.
G. Adams 6
In conclusion, this author reflects on the history of St. Patrick's. One can see the
evolution in this church due to the people's involvement. St. Patrick has always been an
ethnic diverse community from it's very beginning. Now St. Patrick has continued the
tradition, the ethnicity has changed but the people's faith, love, and commitment to the
Church has not. One can see the astonishing achievements that were made in the past,
and wonders how to improve upon or continue to build upon this great icon. This
community needs this magnificent role model to carry on the tradition that goes along
with it's history. This author hopes and prays that all that has happened in past and
present will be great stepping stones for the future of St. Patrick Church and its people.
Adams, John & Carol. Personal Interview. September 2002.
Bradley, Deloras. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Graw, Ronald. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Pierce, Barbara. Personal Interview. October 2002.
S.P., Church of 1997 Author Unknown.
S.P. Dedication May 1 0, 1 952 Author Unknown.
S.P. Directory 1992 Author Unknown.
S.P. Parish Family 1986 Author Unknown.
S.P. "50 Years Upon This Rock" 1969 Author Unknown.
Wright, Anna Personal Interview. November 2002.
(ground is "Broken
t .riHin.! iv broki l
MAIN FLOOR PLAN OF CHURCH
JLoor TCanfor St. Tatrick Church
on SchooC Street
SkeCeton Structure of St. Tatrick on SchooC Street
a ^kelrfof! nitcd
Stone Cross 'Raised at St. Tatrick Church on School Street
iTw .1 1 x u
i: l «
'37ii5 is an exampCe of a lYagner 'Bros. Stained gCass
window. Ms is the entrance window at St. Tatrick on
■ -- "';WU-ii»;
"My house shall he called the house of prayer/
ytrgin Mary Statue
S.T. "50" \Jears
Sunday Mass at St Patrick's Church on School Street
S.T. 50 years
The Last Remaining Wet Swamp and Lagoon is Disappearing
At Shorewood Park
Rogelio Gonzalez Sanchez
English 101, Archival Essay
12 December 2002
The Last Remaining Wet Swamp and Lagoon is Disappearing
At Shorewood Park
Wetlands are defined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife as natural habitats containing
wet soils and water tolerant plants that experience variable periods of moisture
throughout the year. Once thought to be unproductive and drained for agricultural
purposes, wetlands contain a rich diversity of flora and fauna providing food and shelter
for migratory birds and other species native to these habitats. Wetlands also regulate
flooding and groundwater recharge (Campell 4). The wetland at Shorewood Park "has a
very complex ecosystem supporting many species... and nesting habitats and feeding
ground for fish and waterfowl. It is one of the few remaining marsh wetlands left in the
Rockford area" (1). It also includes a lagoon. Both are in danger of disappearing.
Presettlement Loves Park had abundant wetlands along the Rock River creating
swamps, and sloughs. Wooded lands were also prevalent near the river (4). Later,
between 1840 and 1900, Loves Park was basically a rural American landscape dominated
by farming and the seasonal cycles of rural life (26). In 1901, Malcom A. Love, Rockford
industrialist, civic leader, alderman, avid conservationist, fishing and gun enthusiast, who
lived between 1859 and 1930, purchased the 236-acre farm from Francis A. Weldom. Mr.
Love used his new property exclusively as a private park and recreation area, inviting
friends and associates. Love's "Park" gradually became a popular location for summer
picnics, baseball games, boating excursions, and outings (21).
By 1909, the Rockford Park District (RPD) was founded. The RPD was ahead of
its time in creating parks and recreational facilities "to help people enjoy life" (3). In
1958, the RPD Board purchased a 36-acre tract of property fronting on the east bank of
the Rock River ("Good Move" NP) from Mrs. Adlyn Hobson for $58,000. (Research still
has to be conducted to know how Mrs. Hobson got her property from Mr. Love). The
board members responsible for the purchase were: Seth B. Atwood, President of the
Board, Dr. Robert F. Schleicher, Reuben Aldeen, Francis Colehour, and R.F. Dahlquist.
This purchase was considered a good move for the RDP since the land was the last
remaining wooded area with wetland close to Rockford.
One year later, in 1959, the RPD was looking for a name for its newest park. In a
contest to pick a name staged by the RPD, Maria Wallace, a sixth grader, won the contest
among Loves Park school age children. "Shorewood Park" was the winning name among
over 700 submitted. How did she pick the name? She said, "It's on the river's shore and
it has woods. And I thought of Sherwood Forest in England, and this is kind of like that,
so I thought of "Shorewood."" The prize for Marcia was a $150 portable television set
("The Winner" NP).
Shorewood Park is located at Evelyn Avenue and Forest Grove Street in Loves
Park (See map #1).
For the next few years, there were no improvements in the park, which caused
much criticism. As early as 1961, three years after the RPD purchased Shorewood Park,
the article "Beloit Eases Boaters' Launching Problem; Will Rockford Take the Hint?"
criticized the lack of development of the park by stating, "This is Shorewood Park, which
the park board hasn't developed ..." (RPD Files). In 1963, another article "Action Long
Overdue" by the Post emphasized the previous, "As a RPD project, the creation of
Shorewood Park... has been criminally neglected ("Action Long" NP).
Finally, a project was born in 1964. The RPD, with a budget of $132,660, planned
major improvements in the park. These included: clearing the woods, dredging the lagoon
deeper and constructing a boat launching facility. The area on the edge of the lagoon
would be covered with sand to create a beach area, build a playground, create parking
areas and a shelter house with restrooms ("Park District" NP). Initial work began in the
winter of 1964 by clearing the woods of dead elms, undergrowth and debris. It lasted
until the beginning of 1967. The park opened after the initial work was done in the
summer of this year ("Open Shorewood" NP).
Bad news was in store for the lagoon. In August of 1967, Loves Park City
Council voted thumbs down on the boat launching project and with it the dredging of the
lagoon. Some 164 residents of Loves Park's Third Ward opposed the boat ramp charging
that it would turn proposed access routes, Junius and Forest Grove Streets,
into noisy thoroughfares. Robert Milne, Assistant Director of the Park District, pointed
out that if the boat launching facility was not built, the lagoon, which had been a source
of irritation to residents, might not be dredged. At the same time, Mayor Daniel Timmis
hinted, "as far as the swamp is concerned, it will be have to be taken care of and cleaned
up. There are other laws to handle this" ("Park Council" NP). In spite of these arguments,
the lagoon never has been dredged.
Ruth and Orley Larson remember how the lagoon looked like in the early '80s,
"Ducks used to swim underneath the observation deck and both sides. The lagoon was
full of water. The water used to reach the tree line all the way around. And there used to
be a beaver hut at the end of the observation deck," said Mr. Orley. What happened to the
beavers? Ruth responded, "I think they caught the beavers, tore the hut up and moved the
beavers somewhere else. They did not kill the beavers" (Larson Int.).
Map #1 shows all major improvements to the park until 1986, but the once
healthy, wet, vibrant swamp and lagoon (See photo #1 and #2) are dying. The lack of
maintenance to the lagoon is causing it to disappear. Since 1 964, there have been plans
for dredging the lagoon and covering the edges of the lagoon with sand to form a beach
("Work Starts" NP). At present, it has not happened. Little by little, the lack of
maintenance has been causing people and animals to avoid visiting the lagoon.
From the writer's point of view, the accumulation of sand in the lagoon is due to
sand particles that have been dragged by the water drainage ditch stream that discharges
into the lagoon. This stream might also push dirt into the lagoon. Garbage, dirt, fallen
trees and branches have accumulated in the stream's path to work as a dam. That causes
water to rise and wash away the dirt from the roots of the trees. Trees fall by this effect,
which repeats over and over with high volume of water discharge. The lagoon cannot
afford to accumulate more dirt and sand. The damage is serious, and it might be
irreversible if the lagoon is not dredged now.
Through this paper, the writer would like to make a proposal for enhancement of
the lagoon and swamp at Shore wood Park. This project is divided in three programs,
which will transform a decaying park into a wonderful place to enjoy.
The first program is called "A Lagoon for Enjoyment through Physical
Improvements." This program will recover the natural beauty of the lagoon and its
surroundings. First, it will dredge the lagoon and propose measures to stop the sand from
entering the lagoon by constructing sand traps in the drainage ditch path. Second, this
program will protect the borders of the lagoon with rocks. Other opportunities to enhance
the lagoon will include creating paths in the wooded area surrounding the lagoon,
clearing the wooded area of dead trees, and rebuilding and redesigning the observation
The second program is called "Educational." This program will promote direct
learning. Once the educational program is put in place, community members will learn
the importance of wetlands through their direct observation of the flora and fauna in the
lagoon and surroundings. A special program like "Introduction of Beavers in the Lagoon
in a controlled area" will be a special attraction.
This program will also promote summer camps for youth, where young people
will learn about animals living in the lagoon, feeding habits and animal protection.
Throughout the educational program, people will have the opportunity to sponsor an
animal, connecting them with the site and developing the desire to keep it in good
condition. In order to achieve theses goals, this program will ask for support from
community colleges like Rock Valley College Biology Department. Students will be
involved in the implementation of the educational program. A newsletter about the site
will be published every trimester to reach other communities.
The last program is called "Healthy Parks." Healthy Park stimulates better
communities. This program will improve landscaping around the lagoon. It will improve
and maintain the wildflower area, as well as develop new garden areas. A healthy park
program will encourage volunteers to take action in the clean up of the park and lagoon.
The overall goal of this project will agree with the Rockford- Winnebago County
Planning Commission. In 1972, it stated, "As the areas become more urbanized,
recreation areas will become increasingly important as places where open space and
natural beauty is preserved. Parks and recreation areas must be planned so that the entire
population may have access to facilities for the use of leisure time ("Rockford-
Future generations deserve to enjoy the natural beauty of the last remaining
wetland at Shorewood Park. Through the applications of these programs, this project will
create better communities by having wonderful parks. Parks can inspire people not only
through their beauty, but also through effective programs that stimulate knowledge and
"Action Long Overdue." The Post . 12 Dec. 1963. Rockford Park District Files.
Campell, Craig, G. "History of Loves Park, Illinois." Rockford, Illinois: Craig G.
Campell P.CM. 1998.
"Good Move by Park Board." Rockford Register-Republic . 19 Sept. 1958.
Rockford Park District Files.
Larson, Orley & Ruth. Personal Interview. 16 Nov. 2002.
"Open Shorewood Park 1 st Time This Summer." Mail. 13 March 1967.
Rockford Park District Files.
"Park Board Buys 36-Acre Tract On River Front." Rockford Register-Republic .
18 Sept. 1958. Rockford Park District Files.
"Park Council Votes Thumbs Down On Boat Launching." Rockford Morning
Star . 29 Aug. 1967. Rockford Park District Files.
"Park District Plans Long- Waited Project." The Post . 1 Oct. 1964. Rockford Park
"Pathway to the marsh." 10 June 1981. Rockford Park District
Rockford Park District. "Seasonal Information Book." 2001.
Rockford- Winnebago County Planning Commission. "Report No. RWCCPC-72-
16." City of Loves Park Preliminary Comprehensive Plan. August 1972.
"The Winner is Marcia Wallace, 11; The Winning Name: Shorewood Park."
Loves Park Post . 16 July 1959.
"Work Starts on New Park." Rockford Register-Republic . 19 Nov. 1964.
Rockford Park District Files.
Wls^*\. $)Weioool ^VacV..
REVISED G»/9fe OS
Photo # 1 . Lagoon at Shorewood Park in 2002
(Photo by Rogelio Gonzalez)
Photo # 2. Lagoon and Wooded Bridge at Shorewood Park in 2002
(Photo by Rogelio Gonzalez)
<fk gift from Me <$ee<6i
>.h»nin..»v Market Building, 713 East State Street
Rock Valley College
(ft ^iftftont the. $eeci*mafi
Rock Valley College
Wenger - 1
A Gift from the Seedsman
For over 100 years, farmers from all over the area have traveled to downtown
Rockford to sell their wares (goods). Their destination has been Shumway Market,
which was established by the late Roland H. Shumway. This journey was a necessity of
life for farmers because farming was their livelihood. The passage to Shumway Market,
back in the early 1900s, was a long and timely process. Today, the trip is quick, but it
has changed considerably. Where there was once vast farmland, now has been
developed and is hard to imagine the farmers back in the early 1900s, with their horses
pulling wagons full of fresh picked produce and trucks full of wares, traveling this same
Today, traveling a similar path heading west on State Street to Shumway Market,
one can see that the area is now laden with businesses. Very little resembles the
farmland that once sustained families for years.
On this one road, the journey transcends through a great deal of Rockford's
history. It is also very scenic, especially in the fall, when the trees are changing color.
The city becomes a rainbow as the sun shimmers against the trees and illuminates
colors that seem to bounce off each other.
Approaching Shumway Market, the buildings are either newly constructed, free of
maintenance, or have been standing for many years and are in great need of
restoration. The city at this point is not very welcoming, but do not be discouraged,
there is beauty to come. It may only be in the eyes of the writer, but some of these old
buildings one can only imagine what they might have looked like in the early 1900s.
Wenger - 2
The area surrounding Shumway Market is also very old. Next door to the market
is Midway Theater, another historical site with a tower holding a giant clock, which can
be seen from several blocks in all directions. The Faust Hotel, across the street from
the market, towers over a good portion of the block and has been a fixture of Rockford
since 1929. ("Chronological...").
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
As the road curves to the right of the hotel, there sits Shumway Market looking
very fresh, but with a very old history. The small but quaint building is not busy looking,
so therefore does not really "stand out" from its surroundings, but it is interesting to view
the many details of the structure. It seems to invite people passing to stop in and visit.
With two large windows located on either side of the dark stained wood front door, they
seem to be willing the sunlight to come in and welcome strangers as they enter.
The single story, light tan brick building has cream-colored trim around the
windows, black iron fencing on the lower portion of the arched windows and a red clay
tile roof. A small white ventilated dome sits on the center of the roof with a brick smoke
stack located on the backside of the structure.
Wenger - 3
In the front of the building are two fairly young locust trees no taller than the
building. The trees are planted on the opposite side of the sidewalk away from the
building and are situated in front of each of the arched windows. In the center of the
building, directly in front of the door, is a replica of an old street light post with two light
The building has an alley running along the east side; while around the back
(where the weigh station used to be) and along the right side of the building, is a public
parking lot. Since 1904, the parking stalls have been rented to vendors who, in return,
sell their wares.
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
The Shumway Market building is a true replica of what the city was like during
the early nineteen hundreds. When looking at the structure, one can almost picture the
people from all over the area flocking around the various stands purchasing fresh
flowers, fruits, vegetables, and other wares being sold. The public market was open
weekly on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and its location was considered the center
Wenger - 4
of Rockford and easy to find. Even though it was located on the East side of the river,
as Rockford has always been divided by East and West sides, the market drew
individuals from all walks of life to personally shop for their specific needs.
Mr ^4^1 *■' iW^MI.
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
Rockford is very fortunate to have had a man so generous as Roland H.
Shumway. If it had not been for him, this public market place would have never been
built. He was the founder of a mail order seed business and the one that planted a
seed that would forever grow in the city known as "Shumway Market." Son of David
Smith Shumway, a driver for the Dixon-Rockford Stage, and Sally Greeley Shumway,
Roland was born July 26, 1842, on the family farm in Kishwaukee, Illinois ("No Title").
In 1 861 , at the age of 1 9, Mr. Shumway enlisted in the Illinois Infantry. He was
discharged on October 6, 1862 ("Roster of Company A..."). On January 16, 1864, he
married Emma Davis with whom he would have six children ("R.H. Shumway..."). On
February 4, 1865, he re-enlisted into Company "G" 153 rd Illinois Infantry and served until
July 26, 1865 ("Roster of Company G..."). On April 9, 1865, the Civil War ended, the
troops were sent home and Roland returned to Kishwaukee, Illinois (Gabor).
Wenger - 5
In 1870, his mother gave him some Jerusalem Cherry Tree seeds ("No Title").
He decided to advertise them in the Prairie Farmer, and offered 10 seeds "plus some
tasty cooking recipes to the lucky first comers ("No Title")." This was the beginning of
his retail mail order seed business, which he started from his home. As the demand
grew, he relocated his business to Rockford where he established his seed business at
the northeast corner of Third and State Streets. Throughout the next 1 8 years, the mail
order seed business grew at such a pace that Shumway Seeds had to move two
additional times in order to accommodate the growth of the company. His business
became known throughout the world, but remained a simple mail order service ("No
Mr. Shumway was an extraordinary man. During his tour of military duty, he
became ill with bronchitis leaving him totally deaf ("R.H. Shumway..."). Yet, he was
able to develop an extremely profitable business and become one of the wealthiest
individuals in Rockford ("Who Pays...").
He was active in the community and used his personal wealth to assist others in
need. On January 17, 1903, he purchased a lot referred to as the "Gill Lots" for a pricey
sum of $4,513.03 ("Master's Deed"). The lot was centrally located in proportion to the
city and covered more than a city block. Prior to the purchase, the property was
considered a possible site for the public library and therefore, the location was well
known by the public.
Because of his close association with the area farmers, Mr. Shumway felt
Rockford needed a public market place ("Fewer Sales..."). On May 2, 1904, he wrote to
the Rockford City Council expressing the following:
Wenger - 6
To the Mayor and City Council of the City of Rockford:
Gentlemen: The activities of our present Mayor and Board of Alderman in
those things which make for a greater Rockford are commendable,
With the miles of new sewer now being built, the eighteenth school house
under course of construction, the twenty two acre Fair Ground Tract
acquired for Public Park purposes, and a new City Hall and Jail provided
for, I can see but one thing lacking,
For the benefit of all and the poor especially, Rockford should have a
PUBLIC MARKET PLACE where the consumer could deal direct with the
Farmer, the Gardener and all who produce for Sale, the necessities of life.
The value of such a place cannot be overestimated, and to make it
possible for our City to possess a Public Market centrally located, I have
decided to offer as a free gift to the city Lot 7 and the westerly 16 ft. of the
northerly 231 ft. of lot 6 in Block 3 of Gregory's Add. Being 115 ft. fronting
on E. State Street by 165 ft. in depth, provided however that the City will
agree to put said site in a suitable condition, and too for all time maintain
for above mentioned purpose. (Shumway)
At the time of the gift, the land was laden with billboards and not suitable for a
market place. In a letter to the City, Mr. Shumway made a provision that the land be
cleared and developed to accommodate the market. With this agreement, the City
partitioned the lot and in 1905 erected a stone arch inscribed "R.H. Shumway Market"
honoring the contributor ("City Council").
Wenger - 7
Shumway Market Archway Eauuxe (l<X)5i
Upon completion of the arch, the City did
not take steps to promote the farmers' market.
The Winnebago County Pomona Grange
intervened and designated Reverend Melvin C.
Smith, Walter Rose, and T. W. Cleveland (all
members of the Grange) to put the land to use
as Mr. Shumway had stated in his letter to the
City. The three proceeded to set a date and hire
a band to draw attention to the market. On the opening day, not one farmer was
present to sell his wares, but eventually, a single farmer showed and "saved the day"
("Shumway Market Birth..."). After the grand opening, the public market grew.
During the early nineteen hundreds, homes were heated by wood-burning stoves
and many had livestock to feed. The farmers would bring cut wood and straw to sell,
along with items that would keep for periods of time, such as tubers (potatoes).
Customers purchased items by the bulk in order to have enough wood, hay, and/or
potatoes to last the entire winter ("Where City...").
In 1914, over ninety growers gathered to the market to sell their wares. With the
public market offering so many types of goods, hundreds of customers crowded to the
market in search of the freshest produce. Vendors arrived by horse-drawn carriages
and trucks loaded with fresh vegetables and many different types of fruits, as
Wenger - 8
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
well as, livestock. Chickens sold for $0.20 per pound and grapes went for $0.30 per
peck or $1 .00 per bushel ("Shumway Mart. . . ").
Because the public market was growing so rapidly, in 1923, the City asked Mr.
Shumway for his permission to build a "public comfort station." He granted the City's
request and signed an agreement on April 27, 1923. In this agreement, he stated that:
In consideration of One Dollar ($1.00) and for other good and valuable
considerations this day to me in hand paid, I hereby grant unto the city of
Rockford the right to erect and forever maintain a public comfort station on
such part or all [the site]... as the City Council of the City of Rockford may
at any time hereafter select. (Gregory)
With Mr. Shumway's approval, Charles Bradley, a local architect, was hired by
the City as the contractor to build the public comfort station (Gregory). The facility was
designed to house the market master, a weigh master (for which a weigh scale was
installed in the rear of the building), confectionery, comfort station, barbershop, and
Wenger - 9
beauty parlor. The funds to pay for the construction of the building were raised by the
revenues generated from the farmers market held from 1905 through 1923 ("Fewer
Sadly, Mrs. Shumway and daughter, Myra, died prior to Mr. Shumway's gift to the
City. Their four sons and other daughter participated in the dedication of the arch
honoring their father, but only two sons experienced the completion of the public
comfort station ("R.H. Shumway...").
Shumway Market was a tremendous success. In the 1940s and 1950s, it was
especially strong. Even with so many families torn apart by hard times, due to the
events going on in the world, the market survived. It was amazing that the business,
and the building, surpassed all obstacles. The public market remained open through
the Depression, World War II, the Korean, and Vietnam Wars ("U.S. Wars...").
Around the late 1950s and early 1960s, supermarkets became the common
place to purchase groceries, including fresh produce. Higher prices charged for
homegrown produce by the local farmers and in-home refrigeration were all attributed to
the dwindling attendance at the public market. With the decline in sales at the market,
revenues were not sufficient to cover the costs of maintaining the building and property
("Grandson of..."). In March of 1963, the City Traffic Commission made a
recommendation to the City Council to level the building and install "metered" parking
stalls to provide additional income. The property currently had 58 stalls and if the
building was removed, the area could accommodate 1 1 more parking stalls ("Grandson
Wenger - 1
R. Hallett Shumway, grandson of Roland Shumway, opposed this idea. He
stated that, "City administrators had disregarded any kind of honor of any bequest that
has been made" ("Grandson of..."). With the grandson advocating to keep the building
and Third Ward Alderman, Ray C. Graceffa, supporting his efforts, in December of
1 963, the City Council voted 1 3-5 in favor of maintaining the building and not converting
it into more parking stalls ("Shumway Market Retention...").
In August of 1 971 , as part of the outgrowth of Earth Works Day, the American
Institute of Architects held a "reopening" in an attempt to attract vendors and customers
back to Shumway Market. They advertised that the public market would open at 10:00
a.m., but customers were anxious and arrived as early as 7:00 a.m. to purchase fresh
produce. Fresh corn, red tomatoes, white onions, black eyed peas, squash, green and
red peppers, and cabbage were just some of the produce being sold. So many buyers
showed up that several vendors ran out of produce and had to return to their farms to
replenish their stock ("Townsfolk...").
Some vendors who participated in the reopening had been involved with
Shumway Market for over 28 years, such as the Adamsons from Monroe Center. They
stated that, "This market has been good to us, it helped us pay off our mortgage and
raise our children." This event was a new beginning for the market ("Townsfolk. . .").
New vendors started to appear. Not only did farmers arrive to sell their produce,
individuals, that had gardens as hobbies, were also involved in the market.
Gardeners such as the Hummels' were one of many families of hobbyist. They
traveled from Oregon to sell their vegetables, flowers, and homemade jellies and jams.
Wenger - 1 1
Mrs. Hummel's specialty was gladiolas. In the spring, she would plant over 3,000 bulbs
just to sell at the market (Hummel Interview).
They had over three acres of land that Mrs. Hummel passionately called "her
garden." The garden originally started out with just a few plants and over the years it
grew so large that she decided to sell her vegetables and flowers. Every Saturday for
over twenty-two years, they came to Rockford to sell their wares. They continued until
1 991 , when Mr. Hummel lost his eyesight and was unable to help Mrs. Hummel with the
garden. It was with saddened hearts they had to stop because they met so many
people and the vendors became as one family from the years of involvement. Today,
people still stop and visit with Mrs. Hummel and reminisce about the market (Hummel
About fifteen years ago, another hobbyist, Ray Ferene, got involved when his
wife suggested that he sell his produce instead of giving them away or throwing them
out because they went bad. Since Shumway Market was the only public market at the
time, he rented a stall with several other vendors and proceeded to sell his vegetables
Many individuals were involved with the market over the years; some during the
good times and others came just to keep the market alive. On numerous occasions,
Shumway Market's future was in jeopardy of either being torn down or returned to the
heirs of the donor because of lack of participation. Bertha Adamson was one of those
individuals who came to keep the market alive. She was considered one of the diehard
vendors that came, rain or shine, to sell her homemade goods. She kept coming even
Wenger - 1 2
after the market slowed down, which lasted from the late 1950s to the early 1980s
(Zander, R. Interview).
In 1972, Mrs. Gwen Thompson, daughter of Bertha Adamson, stepped in where
her mother left off and vowed to sell her baked goods year-round just to keep the
market open ("Woman..."). At age 72, Mrs. Thompson drove from Clinton, Wisconsin
every Saturday morning to sell her baked goods. Other vendors joined her in selling
items such as rhubarb, mustard green, onions, and various types of flowers. The
young, and not so young, joined in to save the market ("Woman...").
In spite of the efforts made by the vendors to keep the market open and generate
enough income to support the building, it still was not enough. In the early 1980s, the
City decided to rent the building to bring in additional income. On June 25, 1982,
Christine Wagner, d/b/a Wagner's Hair Studio and Arnold's License Service signed
leases with the City of Rockford to rent the building. In each lease, it stated that they
would provide for "custodial services" ensuring the upkeep of the building. In providing
such duties, it would reduce their respective rents (Rockford Area...).
Chris Wagner maintained her business in the Shumway Market building until the
late 1980s. She was a mother of a three-year-old and had many surrogate
grandparents to keep her daughter busy. As a beautician, Saturdays were also her
busy days, just like the farmers. Her daughter spent the morning with the farmers, while
mom was busy with her clients. Ms. Wagner was always appreciative of their
generosity. To this day, she keeps in touch with many of the people who have been
part of Shumway Market (Wagner Interview).
Wenger - 1 3
This last effort made by the City to generate more income by renting out the
building still was not enough to make ends meet. In August 1986, it was brought to the
City of Rockford's attention that the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
wanted to renovate Shumway Market building and use it for the Rockford Area Arts
Council. They had a state grant for $1 20,000 that they wanted to use to restore the
building to its original state. The City agreed to lease the building to the Bureau and to
allow them to renovate the building ("Big Art Market...").
When the renovations were completed, some changes did come to the building
and the market. There was no longer space for a market master, the weigh station was
long gone, and no confectionary, barbershop or beauty parlor existed. The public
restrooms were removed, but the building had a new facelift. To the naked eye
everything seemed the same, but underneath all had changed.
The familiar faces of vendors like Gwen Thompson, Dick Zander, and Ray
Ferene are no longer seen at Shumway Market. About eighteen months ago, Ray
Ferene decided to relocate to another market. He was the only vendor left at Shumway;
the others had left over the years because of declining business. The need for
homegrown produce was still there, but not at Shumway Market (Ferene Interview).
During the last five to six years, three other public markets opened in Rockford.
These sites were more attractive to the vendors and drew them away from downtown.
The first one opened at Edgebrook Shopping Center, second at Colonial Village, and
the most recent market opened at the North End Commons located at Auburn and Main
Streets. The opening of these public markets provided three very attractive areas that
Wenger - 14
would draw more clientele and provide easier accessibility and parking (Ferene
When visiting these new markets, one can renew friendships with "Shumway"
vendors, such as Dick Zander. Son to one of the original farmers of Shumway Market,
he, to this day, is still involved in the farmers market. He farms the family land on
Montague Road and the public can still buy produce at his farm or from the market
(Zander, F. Interview). Mr. Ray Ferene and many newcomers are also in attendance at
The seed has been planted and nurtured for almost 100 years. Through
changing times, economically and in growth, styles and needs, Shumway Market has
survived. Today, the building is the same, but the market itself is feeling a hardship, the
last vendor has left. Mr. Shumway provided the farmers with a place to sell their wares;
it is up to the farmers, as well as the community, whether the legacy will continue or
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
Wenger - 1 5
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
Wenger - 1 6
1 * ' J
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
Wenger - 1 7
Load Of Tokio-Bound Scrap Weighs In
« '•* SMMf PM&
t-rk r«*« t,t
j»«ta£» ■e.:t.iTA% l*,U«*»5' T
*ns- IS ■*<* *-*
- ****? 0* % t '.*
<U^ifUft«,S i" ■&
- .-.-.- ttm Ua< W»#» aw
• «-■;-' wrap
ii'.rOl ami ?i
(Rockford Area Arts Council)
Wenger - 1 8
"Big Art Market Festival Premiers." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library. 1 June 1988.
"Chronological History of Rockford." @2002 American Online, Inc. n.d. Online.
<http://www:Rockfordillinois.com/chronst.htm>. 22 September 2002.
Ferene, Ray. Personal Interview. 12 October 2002.
"Fewer Sales, Higher Hurt Costs Once-Thronged Shumway Market." Rockford Register
Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 9 August 1952.
Gabor S. Boritt. "Civil War." World Book Online Americas Edition, n.d. Online.
<http://www.worldbookonline.com/ar7/na/ar/co/ar1 17060. htm>. 29 September
"Grandson of Market Donor Opposed to Parking Plans." Rockford Morning Star.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 3 November 1963.
Gregory, Virginia. Rockford Historic Preservation Commission. City of Rockford. 7 July
Hummel, Blanch. Personal Interview. 19 October 2002.
"Market is Page from Past." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public
Library. 31 May 1965.
"Master's Deed." City of Rockford. 3 May 1904.
Molyneaux, John L. "History of Rockford." Gorockford.com. 1997. Online.
<http://www.gorockford.com/area/history2.cfm>. 29 September 2002.
Snyder, William J. "Birth of a City." Sinnissippi Saga: A History of Rockford and
Wenger - 1 9
Winnebago County, Illinois. Ed. Hal C. Nelson. Shumway Market Archway Entrance
"No Title." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 8 July
"R.H. Shumway Dies of Injuries." Rockford Morning Star. Microfilm. Rockford Public
Library. 1 January 1926.
Rockford Area Arts Council. File on Shumway Market, n.d.
"Roster of Company A 67 th Illinois Infantry." Rootsweb.com. n.d. Online.
<http://www.rootsweb.com/-ilcivilw/r100/067-a-in.htm>. 29 September 2002.
"Roster of Company G 153rd Illinois Infantry." Rootsweb.com. n.d. Online.
<http://www.rootsweb.com/-ilcivilw/r155/153-g-in.htm>. 29 September 2002.
"Shumway Gives Public Market." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford
Public Library. 3 May 1904.
"Shumway Market Birth Recalled by Local Pastor." Rockford Morning Star.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 3 November 1963.
"Shumway Market Has Appealed to Many Tastes Since 1905." Rockford Register Star.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 29 July 1983.
Shumway Market Retention is Voted." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library. 3 December 1963.
"Shumway Mart Had Fine Trade This Morning." Rockford Register Republic.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 22 August 1914.
Shumway, Roland H. "City Council of the City of Rockford." 2 May 1904.
Wenger - 20
"The Shumway Scene: Produce Market Is in a Resurgence." Rockford Register Star.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 13 July 1987.
"Townsfolk Are Hungry for Old Open Marketplace." Rockford Morning Star.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library. 29 August 1972.
"U.S. Wars - Gone but not forgotten." The Veterans Gazette, n.d. Online.
http:///www.theveteransgazette. com/wars. html.
Wagner, Christine. Personal Interview. 19 October 2002.
"Where City Folk Meet the Producer." Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Files, n.d.
"Who Pays the Biggest Taxes." Rockford Morning Star. Microfilm. Rockford Public
Library. 8 July 1904.
"Woman Continues a Saturday Tradition." Rockford Register Star. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library. 2 July 1978.
Zander, Frank. Personal Interview. 13 October 2002.
Zander, Richard. Personal Interview. 13 October 2002.
Singer "Mental 'Wealth
"Opening New doors "
-. ®y --
<RgckVa(fy Community Coffege
Opening New Doors
Tucked behind locked doors, it did not matter whether they were mentally ill,
mentally retarded, or deemed not normal to society, they were put away. State mental
hospitals all over the nation were packed like sardines. Society shunned these people and
put them in hospitals that were under-staffed and hidden away from public knowledge.
These hospitals became dumping grounds for persons the community felt were too
difficult to care for (Reidy).
In 1960, Illinois was one of the first states to create the Department of Mental
Health. Its plan was to develop alternatives to long-term institutionalization and over
crowding at state mental hospitals ("Linking ..."). Governor Otto Kerner petitioned a
$160 million bond before the voters of Illinois to build six centers throughout Illinois.
Voters approved the bond (Reidy). Dr. Francis J. Gentry, Director of the Illinois
Department of Mental Health, wanted to move patients out of hospitals and back into the
communities. They came up with concept of developing zone centers, where early
diagnosis and treatment would return the patients back to the community. Somehow they
hoped this would bring about a totally new understanding of mental illness
In 1961, Sterling, Freeport and Rockford were chosen as potential sites. Rockford
was chosen because it had just become the second largest populated city in Illinois
(Kellog 523). Locating the zone in Rockford was a big boost in the economy and
eventually offered jobs to 300 people. It would cost $7.3 million dollars to build this zone
center (R.R. No Title). This zone serviced nine counties in northern Illinois, including Jo
Davies, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, Carroll, Whiteside, Lee, and Bureau ("Singer
Two sites in Rockford were chosen, one on Ogilby Rd. near Montague Rd. and
one north of Boylan High School on North Main St. The site on Ogliby Rd. had no access
to fire protection, city water, was very isolated and was also in the flight pattern for
landings and take-offs for the Rockford Airport. This site was too costly and too noisy for
the new center. The North Main St. site had access to transportation, water, and fire
protection. Even though the Ogliby site was only $900 an acre, the state opted to pay
$2700 an acre for the North Main St. site. In the long run it would be cheaper. Where
farmland once laid, 100 acres was purchased from Stanley B. Valiulis and Warren N.
Glenny both of Rockford ("100 Acre Tract ...")
In 1963, the clinic was named for H. Douglas Singer, an Englishman who in 1908
founded the Illinois State Psychopathic Institute. He directed the institute and 1920
became a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and
continued in that capacity until his death in 1940 ("Name Clinic ...").
Also in 1963, architectural firms in Rockford, Bradley & Bradley, Hubbard,
Hyland, Rassmussen & Smith shared in designing the facility ("Two Architect Firms
. . ."). This facility was designed like no other in the state of Illinois. It was built in a Y-
shape multi-story building with inner-connected corridors and glass-enclosed hallways so
that every part of the facility was be accessible from within. There were eight units with
bed space for 280 clients, a central dietary, medical and surgical unit, boiler room, an
auditorium, administration, and a swimming pool. There were no walls around Singer, as
• t J
with the past state hospitals having high walls making them hard to get in and even
harder to get out ("Singer Lacks . ..").
However, in 1963, bids were too high at $8.7 million, $1.5 million over the
allotted amount proposed to build the institution. Modifications were made, including
incorporating office space, deleting the swimming pool and downsizing client capacity
space to 220 ("High Bids ...")
In 1964, new bids were put in and accepted. General contracting went to Paschen
Contractors, Inc. of Chicago for $3,912,200. Rockford Industries had the low bid on the
heating contract at $1,380,370. Cecil B. Wood, Inc. was the lowest bidder on the
electrical phase at $434,037. Pipe covering went to Sprinkmann and Sons, Peoria at
$129,193. Ventilating went to R.H. Bishop Co. from Champaign at $430, 072. Plumbing
at $659,690 went to The Nuy-Way Contracting Corp. from Chicago. Food service bid
went to Illinois Range Com., Mount Prospect for $88,747. This time bids totaled
$6,550,000, well below the appropriated funds of $7,300,000 ("Mental Clinic ...").
In November of 1964, ground was broken and on October 10, 1966 the doors
opened. Singer is erected into the side of a sloping hill, a strong brick building. Facing
the front of the facility is a multi-level building connected by inner-corridors. These
corridors connect to two other multi-level buildings in a triangular shape. Extending from
each of these buildings are glass-enclosed hallways that lead to a total of eight units for
the clients ("States New . . .").
On October 10, 1966, Singer opened and served patients with mental disabilities
and the developmentally disabled, patients with mental retardation. Singer could now
help reduce the over population at state hospitals and form a partnership with the
community to work together to balance inpatient and outpatient care. Singer could now
keep patients closer to home and to their families. It began with thirty beds. Fifteen were
used for temporary hospitalization and fifteen for transferring clients from state mental
hospitals ("States New ...").
The only way a person could be admitted to Singer, then and now, was through
referrals. Jane Addams Mental Health Center in Freeport serves clients from JoDavies
and Stephenson Counties. Janet Wattles Mental Health in Rockford, serves clients from
Winnebago and Boone Counties. Ben Gordon Mental Health Center in Dekalb serves
people in Dekalb Counties. Sinnissippi Mental Health Center in Dixon serves patients
from Ogle, Lee, Whiteside and Carroll Counties. These centers also provide outpatient
treatment to the patients from these counties ("Application . . .").
In 1968, Singer opened its doors to expand service to the young. This program
was available to children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17. These patients
were of either sex and so severely disturbed they required hospitalization. These clients
were referred by school counselors, teachers or parents. The plan was to teach troubled
youths how to get along in society. By the end of the year, 75% of the treated were
returned to the community. In 2001, this program changed to adolescents for troubled
clients from ages 13 to 17 years of age ("Singer Unlocks ...")
In 1976, Singer opened a unit for alcoholics. This unit was a "drying out"
program followed by in-patient care at the center or referral to an out-patient care
network involving Alcoholics Anonymous seminars or halfway houses. This unit was
phased out in 1977 and taken over by AL-Care and Roscrance ("Singer Opens . . .").
In 1983, Dixon Developmental Center closed in Dixon, Illinois. Singer opened
two more units for the developmentally disabled. These individuals consisted of mild,
moderately, severely, and profoundly retarded, some being ambulatory and some wheel
chair bound ("Application ..."). In 2002 the developmentally disabled units were phased
out because Singer was the only dual facility in Illinois. A Dual facility was no longer
deemed affordable (Langford Interview"). The developmentally disabled were sent to
community homes and other state facilities that house the developmentally disabled.
Today, there are three Adult Psychiatric Units left at Singer. Two units are short-
term care units and one is used for more long- term care. Singer is also back-up to 26
more counties in Illinois because Governor Ryan made budget cuts and closed Zellar
Mental Health Center in Peoria, Illinois. Services provided within include activity staff
which run rehabilitation groups like 12-step programs, medication management classes,
leisure time at the game room, music volleyball, and cookouts. There is also a client
library, educational programs and volunteers for church programs. There are medical
doctors, psychiatrists, RN's, LPN's, lab technicians, pharmacy, psychologists, dietary,
maintenance, social workers, housekeeping, medical records/ administrative services and
direct care technicians ("Application ..."). Today there are approximately 175 people
employed at Singer.
In 2001, approximately 800 clients were served at Singer. Because admissions are
up and Singer is now back-up to 26 other counties in Illinois, it is projected that by the
end of 2002 Singer will have provided services for over 1000 clients (Langford,
Interview). In January of 2003 the adolescents unit is scheduled to close and another unit
for the mentally disabled is supposed to open.
With the growing need for services for the mentally ill, it does not matter if cuts
are made in budgets, services transferred to other facilities or closing of facilities
throughout Illinois. The need for all the services Singer has provided will never go away!
"1 st Singer Unit Opens October 10 th ." Rockford Register Star . 20 September 1966.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"100 Acre Tract Near River Bluff is Chosen." Rockford Register Star . 13 April 1962.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Application for Permit for all Long-term Care and Chronic Disease Facilities." H.
Douglas Singer Mental Health Center. No date.
Courtyard Area in the Middle of the Facility. Photographer unknown. No date.
Front Entrance to Singer Mental Health Center. Photographer Unknown. No Date.
H. Douglas Singer Center Zone. Beloit Daily News . 2 October 1974.
Rockfordianna files. Rockford PublicLibrary.
"High Bids Delay Building of Clinic." Rockford Register Star . 12 October 1963.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
Kellog, Warren. "Chronological History ..." Sinnissippi Saga. Ed. Hal Nelson.
Winnebago County Illinois Sesquesentenial Committie. 1968 : 523.
Langford, Robert. Personal interview. 23 October 2002.
"Linking Yesterday with Today." Pamphlet. Deanna L. Comptom et. Al. 1971.
Map of Singer Mental Health Center. No Author. No Date.
"Mental Clinic Bids Below Cost Estimate." Rockford Register Star . 16 September 1964.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Name Clinic here for Pioneer Medic." Rockford Register Star . 13 March 1963.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
Reidy, John P. "Zone Mental Health Centers." Pamphlet. 1964.
"Singer Lacks Hospital Look." Rockford Register Star . 8 December 1965.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Singer Mental Clinic Rising from Dust of Farm Fields." Rockford Register Republic .
19 November 1964. Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"States New Singer Center Here Opens." Rockford Register Star . 17 October 1966.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Singer Opens Unit for Alcoholics." Rockford Register Star . 10 October 1969.
Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Singer Unlocks New World for Disturbed Children." Rockford Register Star .
17 October 1966. Rockfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Two Architect Firms Named for Clinic." Rockford Register Star . 5 May 1962.
Rocfordianna Files. Rockford Public Library.
MONDAY - FRIDAY 6 PM to 9 PM :
SATURDAY - SUNDAY - HOLIDAY 11 AM-
CAS- Children and Adolescent Services
DSA- South Birchwoo
. Auditorium, Gymnasium.
..... Activity Therapy,
Dist, 205. Classrooms
APS- Unit 2
APS- Unit 1
Computer Training Genter
APS- Unit 3
B* Community Hall
C- Locust Hall
D- BJrchwood Hall y
C- Sycamore Hall '
• K- Workshop
APS" Adult Psychiatric Services
CAS= Children and Adolescent Services
DSA- Developmental Services for Adul**
jj. Douglas 8Inger
„ itri Health & Developmental Centers
Mental "^ 402 N< m \ n Street
Rockford, IL61103 (815-9877096).
■ North -
Nothing is better than a time at Spencer Park.
English Composition, Rock Valley College
English 101 Section NC
1 1 December 2002
The Historical Spencer Park
Spencer Park has been preserved to help save the history of what happened in
Boone County. The land has gone through many changes since it has had people using it.
The park has had a substantial change of what it is used for from the beginning to present
The land that is known as Spencer Park today is located in Boone County, on the
west side of Belvidere. It is located of North Appleton Road, on the right hand side,
when heading south. It is located on the north side of the Kishwaukee River on the right
side of the road.
The land that today is known as Spencer Park has gone through many purposes.
All of the purposes of the park play a big role in the history of Boone County. It covers
the county when it was first explored in 1835, when it used to be the site of the Boone
County Fair, and finally when it became land of the Boone County Conservation District
( Boone County Then and Now 6).
In 1835, the first settlers came into Boone County looking for a place to reside.
While walking down the Kishwaukee River, the settlers noticed a group of wigwams.
These wigwams belonged to a group of Pottawattomie Indians. These Indians were the
first settlers in Boone County. Not long after the white settlers came into Boone County,
the Indians were forced out of the area. They happened to have their base or group
headquarters on the north side of the Kishwaukee, which is exactly where Spencer Park is
located. Due to the Indians living there, today the county has an Autumn Pioneer
Festival, which is dedicated to the Indians and the settlers that came in 1835. The Indians
played a major role in the land becoming what it has become today (66).
For the next 25 years, Boone County white people started to settle in the region.
A pair of the settlers was Frieda and Vincent Spencer. They purchased land on the west
side of what is now Appleton Road. The county's population was growing and there was
a need of entertainment for the citizens of Boone County. Upon the deaths of the
Spencers, the land was for sale. In 1867, the Fairgrounds Board of Boone County
purchased the land for the new site of the Boone County Fair (98).
Why would they want the fair held in that location? At the time, the population
was all the way around this area so it was a prime location for the fair. The fact that the
land sold for only $1200 and for the amount of land available was also another important
issue. So, the fair was held there (Gustafson Interview).
The fair had a half-mile racetrack, livestock showing area, and many other
attractions. The most memorable parts of the fair were the sideshows. They had weird
names for the sideshows so they could draw in more people. The names included The
Fat Lady, The Bearded Lady, and The Shell Game. These sideshows were very
humorous. They built 28 buildings on the land for the accommodations of what they
needed for the fair. They had a bar that sold alcohol and other beverages and the special
feature was the five-cent shots of whiskey. They had many buildings made for the farm
animals of the fair. They were built for the protection of the animals from the weather
and for storage areas of the things needed for the animals, like feed and so on. There
were also buildings that were for people to eat with a band of some sort playing music in
the background (Gustafson Interview). Out of the 28 buildings built, only two of them
remain today. The land was starting to be too small for the number of entries for the
people who wanted to show at the fair. So, in 1963, the fair was moved to its present
location (Gustafson Interview).
After the fair left this land, it was used for art shows that were held on Sundays.
Then, in 1968, the county wanted another form of entertainment. In 1968, after Art Show
Sunday, a series of concerts were held at the former location of the fair. By 1976, the
county's population was on the rise very quickly and surrounding land was starting to
become owned and developed heavily. Spencers land was still not developed and there
was something being planned that made the land what it is today (Gustafson Interview).
In 1976, the Boone County Conservation District (BCCD) was formed to help
conserve some of the important land in Boone County. At the time of the formation,
Roger Gustafson was named the executive director of the BCCD. In earlier years he
hoped that the land would not get sold, so he could help form a conservation district to
help him get the land that was owned by the Spencers. The land that the Spencers owned
was donated to the District in remembrance of the Spencers. Once they received the
land, they decided to make it the headquarters of the BCCD. Today, Spencer Park is
much larger due to the buying of nearby land from other people. They bought five other
sections of land that was connected to the land they had received. In all, the land that is
now known as Spencer Park consists of 380 acres. Included in the land is one of the most
toxic dumps in the region (Gustafson Interview).
Spencer Park has changed since the Boone County Fair left the land. The land
has many uses to it where anyone can have fun. The park has gone through many
changes, but can still be enjoyed by a wide variety of people today.
In 1976, there were 28 buildings on the land and a half-mile racetrack. There
were also a few gravel roads in the area that connected certain parts of the fair. Roger
Gustafson was faced with a lot of questions at the get go. He had to figure out exactly
what he was going to do with the land. He also had to figure out what people wanted
done with the land since it was there for the public (Gustafson Interview).
He decided to start by working with what the fair left him. Roger was all by
himself. He had a meeting with all the board members and came up with an agreement
that what he wanted to do was fine with them. Since they were low on money, he
decided to sell as much as he could. Around the racetrack was a wooden fence. He
decided to put an ad in a flier to see if anyone would buy it. A few days later, a man
came by to pick up the wood and they were supposed to take it all for 200 dollars. Roger
said, "Of course, the damn man brought a chain saw and only took the two-by-twelves
and left the damn wooden posts there. So, I had to take out the posts by myself and it
was a pain in the rear" (Gustafson Interview).
After he was done with the racetrack, he concentrated on the 28 buildings. He
decided to keep five out of the 28 buildings there and got rid of all the others. He decided
to keep what he called the Rec Hall, Pavilion, Quonset Hut, Quonset Hut Barn, and the
Pit Barn. He figured that these buildings he could use for certain things that he had in
mind (Gustafson Interview).
Then, he decided to turn the racetrack into a road and connect it to the other
gravel roads that were already there. Today, this is known as the loop, which is straight
west of the park's entrance. Now there was a road that ventured through the whole park
and it was all gravel. For the most part, all the fair stuff was taken care of (Gustafson
Then he decided to build an office in which all the members could work and have
meetings. This would be the headquarters of the Boone County Conservation District.
They made the building to fit their needs and is known as the Administration Building
today (Gustafson Interview).
Once he got that out of the way, he had an idea of hiring other workers. That is
when the BCCD had their own working crew. The crew started and was paid a huge
amount of nine dollars an hour. They worked 40 hours a week and had some
opportunities to have overtime. They were hired to help Roger take care of the park.
With these workers doing the bulk of the work, Roger could spend time in the building
helping make decisions that would benefit the park in the future (Gustafson Interview).
Then the board decided to expand the area of their park by seeking out certain
parts that bordered the land that they already owned. They purchased land in all
directions, except for the east because that is where the road was. They received the land
in five parcels because several different people owned certain parts. "Getting the other
pieces of land was big for the district. It gave us a more diverse area to work with."
Roger stated (Gustafson Interview).
Then in 1981, a shop was built to store working materials for the workers. The
shop consisted of a very small, cubicle-like office that had a desk in it. It had a restroom
and the main shop floor could hold two vehicles in it. Connected to the shop was a wood
shop. The wood shop area was big enough to do all the woodworking jobs. Connected
to the woodworking shop was an area called dry storage. This is where items had to be
stored that could not get wet such as cloth tarps used for the festival, and was convenient
to get at. On the other end of the shop, was a series of bays. This is where the vehicles
and any other piece of equipment that had to be stored (Gustafson Interview).
After the shop was built, Spencer Park started to become one of the best in the
area. They began cutting trails that went way back in the woods for the people who bike
and hike. These trails allowed people to walk back in the woods and get away from the
ever-constant hum of the city. The trails that were cut did not involve cutting down
native trees, but worked around them and cut out the exotic species. They also decided to
pick out areas of the park that they thought would be perfect to mow. Where they
mowed, they thought that it would be an excellent idea to add a few picnic tables here
and there for the people who like to have picnics. With the mowed areas were good
places to let kids run around playing sports and a whole slue of other things like catching
bugs (Gustafson Interview).
On one piece of land there were three old pits that were used for dumpsites. As a
matter of fact, there are three cars, parts of a crane and all kinds of old, rotten tires in the
second pit. The pits used to have trucks going into them every second of every day, and
had filled in with water and were turned into excellent fishing ponds. The first pond
seems to have brackish water most of the time due to the monstrous hills that surround
the pond. The pond's average depth is roughly five feet and is full of bull lily pads, and
coontail. People like to fish this pond for the panfish that get stocked courtesy of the
National Department of Resources. Plus, this pond is the easiest to get to. This pond also
holds the ice fishing tournament for little kids every year, sponsored by the Coon Creek
Casters. They stock the pond with rainbow trout and yellow perch. The best angler, who
is the one that catches the most of the two species, is declared the winner (Gustafson
The second pond is also a very good place to fish. This pond is just west of the
first pond and is divided by a narrow stretch of trees and water grasses due to it being
fairly moist most of the year. This pond is crystal clear and has an average depth of 24
feet. This is the deepest of the three ponds with spots that reach 45 feet. Channel Catfish
are stocked in this pond regularly and draw lots of fisherman to catch the extremely tasty
fish. This pit is the oldest of the pits and is believed to have some of the clearest water
around for people to see (Kane Interview).
The third pond is by far the best fishing pond out of the three. This pond is
located about a mile and a half away from the parking lot. People tend not to fish this
pond because they are too lazy to get off their duffs and walk. The walk is absolutely
gorgeous because the wildlife encountered on the walk is incredible. People could
witness a fox stalking that very plump mouse that has no idea the fox is even there. They
could also witness the playfulness of two whitetail fawns running around in the tall grass
just having a blast. The writer is not complaining, for that results in more bites for the
writer to deal with. This pond is recognized in the state for the number of large bass
located in this pond. It is ranked third in the state for big bass in ponds that are less than
two acres in size. There are also a few muskies that patrol these waters and is the only pit
out of the three to home these vicious fish that can grow to be over sixty inches long.
This pit also has very good ice fishing. The ponds are a big reason why many people
come and visit the park (Kane Interview).
Why on earth would a conservation group want to buy a toxic dump? It was one
of the most toxic dumps in Illinois at one time. They decided to purchase this so it could
not be used anymore as a dump. This dump was used for all kinds of chemicals, oils,
fuels, and other toxic substances that could not go in ordinary dumpsites. So, instead of
letting this continue, the BCCD decided to help out the environment and try to clean it
up. They pay to have it checked regularly to make sure the toxins are not leaking out and
causing harm to any wildlife and contaminating wells. Now the site is in much better
shape than what it was before. The public still cannot use it, but hopefully down the road
it can be used for a dog running area (Gustafson Interview).
They created the famous Heritage Gardens for people to see what was grown
back then from the early settlers. These gardens are very unique in that the BCCD is the
only facility in this area that does this. They grow all the crops that the settlers did and
they also take care of and harvest the way they did back then. They also came up with
the Autumn Pioneer Festival, which is dedicated to the Indians and the very first settlers
who lived here. Here, you can see the ax-throwing contest, cooking of the buffalo stew,
and other things that involve with the settlers. The festival is always on the last weekend
of September and usually has around 4000 visitors (Gustafson Interview).
Other forms of entertainment were added to the park when it was in its developing
stage. There were two basketball courts, two baseball diamonds, and one tennis court
added to provide people with a chance to practice their sports. Spots were cleared for
prairie plots to show the people what they used to look like. Other than that, not much
has changed (Gustafson Interview).
Today, the land is a conservation practice so nothing can be taken out unless the
rules allow it. Today, the land is used for all kinds of things. One can reserve the
pavilion or the rec hall to have parties or family reunions. There are two camps: Camp
Redtail and Camp Redwing, that teaches kids about nature and how it should be treated.
Just this year, there was a big article in the paper on how the Belvidere Park and Spencer
Park were going to be hooked together. Now there is an asphalt bike path that stretches
across this large area of land. This has brought more people into the park and people
seem to be more pleased with the new addition to the park (Gustafson Interview).
The writer has spent a lot of time in the park observing wildlife and fishing.
Some people call it wasting time, but it is good time spent. Since the writer has been
working there for the last three years, changes have been going on during the job.
Another worker by the name of Josh Sage is a regular visitor to the park also. He states,
"The park has kind of slowed down on its changes but seems to be used more now than it
has ever been used before" (Sage Interview).
The park is not perfect and could use a lot of changes to make it better for the
citizens of the county. In order to accomplish this, the district will need money. Money
is not easy to find in large amounts to accomplish this feat. The money could be used in
all different phases of the park and would definitely make it an even better place to spend
time with people. The money could be used to give the employees a raise in their
paychecks. The money could also be used to help purchase or replace old equipment that
is being used at the district right now. Finally, the money could also be used to hire a
night watchman to look over the park so equipment, buildings, and other things do not
get vandalized. In all, money would make the park a more enjoyable place to spend time.
Well, now the reader has been shown how the park has been changed and what it
is like today. People have put their lives into this park and it shows through the park's
quality. Meanwhile, the park is still serving its purpose and will continue to do so in the
future. So take some time and head out and teach our younger generations how we
should help save land that is important so that it does not go down as a factory that takes
up 22 acres.
Boone County Then and Now . Bicentennial Commission Local History #19.
Pages 6,66,69, and 98.
Cash, Bill. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Gustafson, Roger. Personal Interview. September 2002.
Kane, Dan. Personal Interview. September 2002.
Neese, Gordon. Personal Interview. September 2002.
Riffles and Eddies . BCCD Newsletter. September 2002.
Sage, Josh. Personal Interview. October 2002.
Statement of Just Compensation, Tract #21 (Spencer Hud contract OS A 05-0270
(G). October 1981.
The Times Lounge Now and Then
Rock Valley College
25 November 2002
327 West Jefferson Street Now and Then
The Times Lounge, located on the corner of Jefferson and North Church, would
never be what it is today had it not been for Wilson-Hall Printing. As downtown
Rockford grew, so did the need for city services and, subsequently, printing companies.
This was when, in 1 929, two men named Emery Hall and Oscar Wilson decided to build
themselves a place for their printing company (Wilson Int.).
The Wilson-Hall Printing Company building was designed and built by an
architect named Jessie A. Barloga. Jessie contributed significantly to Rockford's
construction in the last hundred years. West high and the Rockford News Tower owe
their design to Barloga. Although many companies have moved on from 327 West
Jefferson, the building functions virtually the same way (Barloga-no page#).
Hall and Wilson decided to build close to central Rockford because this was
where most of their business came from. This building was originally designed for seven
floors, but only four were built due to just having no need for more (Wilson Int.). During
construction, Hall and Wilson made a deal with the Blackhawk Pontiac Garage, to rent
the 2 n floor with windows as a car showroom (Wilson Int). The first three floors were
concrete with steel beams to accommodate the weight for the printing presses and
vehicles (Scordato Int.).
Wilson-Hall printing started in 1927 after the building was finished ( Wilson Int.).
A freight elevator was built to accommodate large loads of paper needed for the 3 rd floor.
There was a door put in on the third floor so new printing presses could be craned
through (Wilson Int.). The printing company stayed moderately successful for 57 years
gaining loyal clientele (Scordato Int.).
"The Black Hawk Pontiac Garage began alongside Wilson-Hall Printing; It did not
last long," said Dave Wilson (Wilson Int.). "A ramp was originally built to bring Black
Hawk's cars from the parking garage up to the showroom," explained Dave Wilson
(Wilson Int.). This writer found no information on what forced them to go out of
Emery Hall and Oscar Wilson had little problem regardless of the Great
Depression that affected most of the country. Originally, the first floor of the building
was a parking garage, which was below ground level. Blackhawk Pontiac was on the 2"
floor. The 3 rd floor was for the printing presses and the top floor, the 4 th floor, was used
for storage (Wilson Int.).
After the 2 nd floor was a car dealership for a short time, walls were put up over the
glass to provide privacy for a photographer's studio. Soon after, the 2 nd floor became a
hippie shop (Wilson Int.). This writer did not find any information in regards to the hippie
shop or the photographers studio. All these companies either went out of business or left
when their lease was up. The printing business stayed there on the 3 rd floor during all the
changes on the 2 nd floor. Wilson-Hall Printing was in operation for 50 years before being
sold to an employee, Mike Scordato (Wilson Int.).
"I was hired by Wilson-Hall Printing when I was just 16," said Scordato. MS2
Graphics is what Mike Scordato renamed Wilson-Hall Printing after he purchased it in
1984. He changed very little using the 4 floor for storage as did Wilson-Hall. The only
thing mentioned different is that now MS2 offers a mailing service as an extra for its
printing clients. Wilson-Hall did not offer this service (Scordato Int.).
Just two years after Mike bought the building in 1984, the Times Lounge moved
into the second floor. It is still there today. The floor was gutted and renovated. The same
bar taken from the old location at 308 West Jefferson was put in. It was quite the feat. It
was pure hardwood extending over thirty feet long. "I cut it into three pieces," said Sam
Salamone. This was the only way to make the transfer.
After walking through the first doors to the Lounge there will be some ugly brown
and orange tiles with nicotine stained windows above it. Beyond the entryway is the
second set of doors that leads to the bar. This is where a variety of food is ordered.
Hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches and pizza all can be ordered straight from the bar. To
the left, facing the pool table there is a dance hall with a juke box that reads CD
phonograph. This room has colorful neon lighting including reflections from a disco ball.
Past this room lies a dining hall that seats 50. It is not used so much anymore due to the
decline of people around the downtown area. Over the years the Times Lounge had a pool
team, and even today sponsors a dart team. (Salamone Int.).
As a whole, 327 West Jefferson Street has not changed a whole lot. MS2 still uses
the 4 th floor for storage just as MS2 did (Scordato Int.). The 3 rd floor is where MS2
Graphics operates. Sam Salamone leases the 2 nd floor from Mr. Scordato. The 1st floor is
still a private parking garage. Over the course of eighty years, different owners and
companies have dawned on 327 West Jefferson Street's door, although the building
serves the same purpose (Scordato Int.).
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"Dartboards Inside. "photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
"Front Door of Printing Press." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
"Front of Lounge." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
"Front of 327 West Jefferson." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
"Inside the Bar." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author
"Left Side of 327 West Jefferson." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
Jessie Barloga (1888-1947): Architectural Styles . Rockford, Illinois. Rockford Art
"Printing Press 1." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
"Printing Press 2." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
"Printing Press 3." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
Salomone, Judy. Personal Interveiw. 1 Nov. 2002.
Salomone, Sam. Personal Interveiw. 1 Nov. 2002.
Scordato, Mike. Personal Interveiw. 1 Nov. 2002.
"Times Lounge Dining Hall." photograph. Nov. 1 1 2002. Photo by author.
Wilson, Dave. Personal Interveiw. 1 Nov. 2002.
to 'A Ken swjss eon Age MuseuM
Home of Uke great RoGert H. Tih^er
By- Destiny Manual*
GHgCisfi Composition, Jlocii VaCCey CoCCege
face Semester 2002
Created in the days of luxurious home buildings, Tinker Swiss Cottage remains as one of the few
surviving examples of exotic architecture from its era. The cottage, which was created by Robert H.
Tinker, contains its original furnishings, artifacts, as well as diaries and personal letters of the Tinker
and Dorr families. The Swiss-style barn that was originally built in 1878 has been constructed as a
visitor center and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Through further reading
many may find that its history of erection is quite interesting.
Robert H. Tinker was born in Honolulu, on December 1, 1836. His father was a Presbyterian
Missionary there. After serving in the foreign mission works for ten years, his father decided to
move the family and return to the States. The family arrived in Lake County, Ohio, in 1841. They
lived here in the minister's home for the next four years. In 1845, Westfield Chautauqua County,
N.Y., became their new residence. Here the Tinkers made a permanent home. Robert attended
Amherst Academy and went on to Amherst College where he received his Bachelors degree (V.A.
In 1854, Robert's father passed away. After his father's passing, Robert found employment at a
local bank as a bookkeeper to help support his family. While working at the bank, he met William
Knowlton. Mr. Knowlton was from Rockford, Illinois and was in town visiting his brother who had
a beautiful mansion in Westfield on the same side of the street that the Tinkers resided. Mr.
Knowlton and Robert developed a friendship in the short time that he was there. When Knowlton
returned to Rockford, he wrote Mr. Tinker a letter asking him to come and work for him in Rockford
where he was a business manager for Mrs. Marry Dorr Manny, widow of the infamous inventor,
John H. Manny. Robert accepted the offer in a heartbeat. Having no money for transportation,
Tinker walked from New York to Rockford. It took him several months to reach his destination (8).
On August 12, 1856, Tinker finally arrived to Rockford. He immediately began work. He
started out as a bookkeeper for Mrs. Manny. He succeeded Mr. Knowlton in managing Mrs.
Manny's business affairs and within a few years he had become Mrs. Manny manager. Working as
manager for Mrs. Manny required him to broaden his business skills and increase his interaction
with the public. He soon became interested in many industries and served as president of five major
companies over the years, including: Rockford Steel & Bolt Works, Rockford Twist Drill & Bit
Company, Rockford Oatmeal Company, West End Street Car Company, and the second railroad to
come into Rockford. Outside of that he also served as a member of the Rockford Park District for
some 12 to 15 years (A.W. Mortensen).
Aside from his work and involvement with the community, Robert loved to travel and had
traveled extensively in the past. Mrs. Manny knew this and she told him about a trip that Reverend
J. H. Vincent was planning around the world. Instantly, he was interested. Mrs. Manny then
insisted that they ride over and visit with the Reverend. The Reverend liked Robert and was thrilled
to have Robert as a traveling companion. Neither men had much money, so they went as steer
passengers on the streamer Glasglow. The trip was taken in 1862-63. Over the nine months they
had traveled, the two discovered that they had much in common and became good friends (V.A.
Throughout the tour, Tinker made pencil sketches, with his artistic abilities, of places that
impressed him. While traveling through Switzerland, he became especially fascinated with their
Swiss chalets. He was so fascinated, that as soon as he returned to Rockford, he purchased over
twenty acres of land with the determination to recreate the visuals that impressed him. When Mr.
Knowlton found out about Tinker's quest, he confronted Tinker and said " Say, Bob, what in the
world are you trying to do down here? Your friends all think you've gone crazy." Tinker's reply
was " Never mind, I am only trying to build a cottage that will give Rockford a name" (9).
After two years of planning, Robert set out to begin construction in 1865. Architect George
Bradley drew the actual layout of the cottage. Tinker hired laborers to take care of the plumbing,
carpeting and priming. Woodcarvings and paintings were to be done by Tinker himself (Bachelder&
Anderson, Appendix A). He had the ideal arrangement mapped out in his head for displaying the
fine furnishings, exquisite silver, china, glass, and the thousands of mementos he collected on his
travels. He was excited to finally be able to start putting them together (Shull, 4). They worked on
the cottage for the next several years. Each room was completed one by one. When finished, there
was a total of 20 plus rooms consisting of: the conservatory, kitchen, sitting room, front hall, parlor,
library, dining room, butler's pantry, smoking room, upstairs hall, south dressing room, south
bedroom, north bedroom suite, master bedroom, and the remaining bathrooms. Each room had its
own unique theme from a different country (Bachelder & Anderson, Appendix A).
Then, on April 24, 1870, the honorable Robert H. Tinker was married to Mrs. Mary Manny,
in Rockford. The next day, they left for their honeymoon to the Hawaiian Islands. When they
returned, they lived in the mansion in the winter months and in the cottage in the summer. At this
point, the structure of the cottage was complete, but the paintings and murals had not been done yet.
Tinker continued to work on his murals throughout the summer months. For their convenience, he
had a suspension bridge built over Kent Creek to connect the two properties. In 1878, Tinker's
dream home was finally complete. He successfully captured all of his illustrations accurately and
was pleased with the product (V.A. Mortensen, 10).
The newly wed Tinkers continued to reside in their mansion in the winter and in the cottage in
the summer until the mansion was demolished in 1886. Tinker had sold some of the property
surrounding the cottage and barn. He had sold the property to the Illinois Central Railroad
Company. This action welcomed change in the area. On August 5, two years later, the first
passenger train on the Illinois Central line pulled into Rockford. Shortly after the passenger station,
freight buildings were soon built over the land, more railroad tracks were laid, and other major
companies soon began production in the surrounding area (10).
On September 4, 1901, Mr. Tinker's wife Mary Dorr Manny passed away at the cottage. Her
funeral was held in the cottage parlor. Not having been single for three years, Tinker remarried. He
married a young lady by the name of Jessie Dorr Hurd, who was his late wife's niece. The two wed
on March 14,1904 in the presence of her brother Fred E. Dorr and John F. Lundstrom. Within four
years the couple decided to adopt a child since they were both getting up in age and neither had any
children. So, in 1908, they adopted a seven-week-old baby boy who they named Theodore Tinker.
The three remained one big, happy family up until Robert's death in 1924. Tinker passed away on
his 88 birthday leaving his wife and adopted son with a heritage worthy of preservation (11).
Before his passing, Robert and Jessie often talked about donating the property to the city of
Rockford (11). Carrying out a wish long cherished by her late husband, Robert H. Tinker, Mrs.
Jessie Dorr Tinker drew up a trust agreement with a board of trustees allowing them to take
ownership of the hundreds of articles of interest and value that had been accumulated by her and her
husband over the last 75 years. Under the trust agreement, Mrs. Tinker retained use of the articles
during her life ("Wants Tinker. ..."). An agreement was also made with Mrs. Tinker in which she
was to get an annuity of 1,800 dollars or 150 dollars every month for the remainder of her life. She
also had the privilege to remain in the cottage as long as she desired or until her death ("Park
Then, in 1942, Mrs. Tinker died. With Mr. And Mrs. Tinker both having passed away, the
Rockford Park District thought it would be best to tear the cottage down because of lack of funds.
The people of the community were shocked and appalled by this decision. They felt that the cottage
should be persevered and turned into a museum. One citizen stated, " This has more of an appeal
than the General Grant's home in Galena. It is a house with 30 rooms, of Swiss style, and well
constructed. It would be interesting to the Rockford public and would be attractive to tourist"
("Urge Preservation. . ."). In determination to save the cottage, a group of over thirty persons formed
a temporary organization and met with the trustees of the cottage, Earnest and Mabel Rastall, at
Burpee Art Gallery. An executive committee was chosen, with Mayor C. Henry Bloom as chairman,
to study ways and means of preserving the cottage. Together they managed to preserve it. Tinker
Swiss Cottage, Inc., was formed to preserve and maintain the historical landmark (V.A. Mortensen,
In 1943, the Rockford Park Board gave the Board of Directors of the Tinker Swiss Cottage, Inc.,
a lease to operate the cottage as a museum. After it became open to the public, thousands of people
came from around the world to view the stunning, Swiss style cottage. Many were impressed and
surprised by its uniqueness. Along with the many others, the writer recalls her first impression of
the cottage as being one of the " most memorable" tours of her childhood. She had never seen a
home with its same uniqueness and so large or with as many rooms as the cottage. Tinker Swiss
Cottage left such an impression on her that she wanted to have her dream home someday to be
modeled after it (11).
Today, Tinker Swiss Cottage remains as an unusual point of interest. It is one of the few
surviving examples of architecture from its era. More than 99 percent of the items that fill the rooms
of the cottage belonged to the Tinkers. The cottage contains all its original furnishings, as well as
personal letters of the members of the Tinker family. Rockford historians have worked hard at
keeping the Tinker grounds true to their nineteenth century roots. In doing so, this has allowed
visitors the opportunity to experience an accurate portrait of what life was like for a Midwest family
in that age and has given the city of Rockford a "name" just as Robert H. Tinker set out to do.
Bachelder, Laura and Chris Anderson. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum Volunteer Guidebook.
Jessie Dorr Hurd. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. Date unknown.
Langford, Donna. Personal Interview. September 2002.
Mary Manny. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. Date unknown.
Mortensen, Arden W. Tinker Swiss Cottage . Local History Room; Rockford Public
Library. No date. No page numbers.
Mortensen, Viola . Tinker Swiss Cottage . Local History Room; Rockford Public Library. 1976.
Orput, Mrs. Raymond. Tinker Cottage, Swiss Chalet . Local History Room; Rockford Public
Library. No date. 27-3 1 .
" Park Board Buys Tinker Cottage". Star 22 July 1929. Rockfordiana Files; RPL.
Robert Tinker. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. Date unknown.
Shull, Thelma. Tinker Cottage. Rockfordiana Files; RPL. 1979. 4.
Suspension Bridge. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. Date unknown.
Swiss Style Barn. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. 1873.
Theodore Tinker at age 73. Photo by Jim Quinn. Star 4 June 1981. Rockfordiana Files; RPL.
Tinker Gardens Monument. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. 1900-1904.
Tinker Swiss Cottage. Photographer unknown. TSC Museum. 1870-1882.
Tinker Swiss Cottage grounds looking west toward Winnebago Street. Photographer unknown.
TSC Museum. Date unknown.
" Urge Preservation of Landmark as Museum". Star 24 July 1942. Rockfordiana Files; RPL.
" Wants Tinker Cottage Made Into Museum". Star 28 April 1937. Rockfordiana Files; RPL.
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English Composition, Rock Valley College
Heaven exists in a rural community just south of Rockford, Illinois off of Weldon
Road. Heaven was the nickname given to the Weldon Farm during the early twentieth
century. Located six miles southwest of the Rockford city limits, the farmstead was
owned and operated by the prominent family who had settled, cultivated and prospered
on the land for generations. Underneath the Weldon family's remarkable tale of their
struggles and triumphs during the years of America's Westward Expansion emerged a
deep and disturbing scandal revolved around George J. Schweinfurth. George's years in
Heaven rocked the county and shocked the region. In the short six years he played
Christ, immoral practices and wild rumors fired the controversy that regrettably defames
the Weldon Homestead
Jonathon Weldon, the namesake of the Weldon Farm, was born to Jonathon and
Sarah Weldon on February 1, 1786. Jonathon was one of two children born into the
seafaring family from Yarmouth, Massachusetts. At the age of seven Jonathon was
stricken with a crippling fever that shriveled his legs. Never able to regain the use of his
legs, Jonathon was confined to a rolling cart and was never able to follow in the family
footsteps on the sea (Rockford Historical Society). Jonathon' s brother, Asa Werden
Weldon, took to the seas at age twelve and made captain's rank by the age of twenty-two
Jonathon, not discouraged by his disability, became an apprentice in Boston,
Massachusetts to a local tailor. After mastery of this skill, Jonathon moved to Keene,
New Hampshire and opened his own tailor shop. It was there he met his bride-to-be,
Mary Davis, the niece of Jefferson Davis, the future president of the Confederate Union.
Mary was also plagued by her own paralyzing handicap during childhood. One morning
at the age of seven Mary awoke to find that she was unable to use her legs. Mary became
doomed to use crutches for the duration of her life and had learned to become a
seamstress. It was said that, "Their occupation and/or common handicap drew them
together". They were married on October 10, 1819 in Keene, New Hampshire (461).
From the years 1820 until 1828, four children were born to Jonathan and Mary
Weldon: Mary Elizabeth born August 17, 1820; Salmon Reigo born December 3, 1823;
Spencer Swartz born January 26, 1825; and Adeline Amelia born November 26, 1828
(Hilton and Hilton). All their children were born in Keene, New Hampshire. All of the
children were fit and healthy; inheriting non of the physical maladies of either parent.
During these years Jonathon developed back problems from sitting all day long and had
to give up his occupation as a tailor. "He became a peddler with a wagon and then a
school teacher after a tavern keeper in Easton, Pennsylvania asked him to take the job and
keep his unruly son in line" (Rowland 461). The Weldon family moved to Providence,
Rhode Island where Jonathon became a successful teacher from 1830 until 1834.
Inspired by the enormous westward migration, the Weldon Family set out from
Keene, New Hampshire for Ottawa, Illinois on October 6, 1834 (461). The Westward
Expansion lured many Americans west for many different reasons. First, during the early
nineteenth century, "The growth of the nation was enormous: population grew from 7.25
million to more than 23 million from 1812 to 1852 and land available for settlement
increased by almost the size of Europe" ( Outline of American History 8). From the years
1816 to 1821 six states were added to the Untied States of America. Illinois, Indiana and
Maine were added as free states, where slavery was prohibited. Mississippi, Alabama
and Missouri were added as slave states (7). Second, the Indian Removal Act of 1 830
provided government funds to force Native Americans west of the Mississippi River from
their native lands. (8) This Trail of Tears opened vast quantities of incredibly fertile soil
to white American pioneers and farmers. Thirdly, these lands were tremendously cheap
and easy to acquire. After 1820, land could be purchased from the government for $1.25
for half a hectare, approximately 100 acres of land. Many Americans began to sever their
ties with the distinctly European influenced eastern seaboard and ventured westward
toward independence (7).
In search of wealth, prosperity and acceptance, the Weldon family embarked on
their journey in a specially constructed wagon that met the physical limitations of
Jonathon and Mary. There were no paved roads along the pioneer trails and crossing
swamplands and mires was tackled with much difficulty. Jonathon was careful to plan
this journey so that every night the family would be able to stay at one of the many
taverns and inns along the trail westward (Rockford Historical Society 1). Exactly two
months after their departure, the Weldons arrived in Chicago, Illinois and then continued
westward to Ottawa to join friends who had made the westward crossing earlier (Church
Jonathon found the Illinois River Bottoms to be exceptionally fertile, so he placed
a claim and discovered an old abandoned log house near the rapids of the Illinois River
and the family began to prepare for the long winter months (Rockford Historical Society
2). The winter of 1834 was well documented as one of the coldest winters that this
region has ever seen. "Often a cord of wood was piled into the ample fireplace at once,
but the cold pressed so hard that at times it could not be driven back and a block of ice
placed upon the floor four feet from the fore stick failed to melt." Indians often visited
the cabin and told stories of the 1779-1780 winter when the snow measured to nine feet
and much of the wildlife perished to starvation (2).
The following spring brought some relief to the exhausted family and work was
begun on the claim. Corn and other vegetables were planted and the fields were fenced
in. Spencer Swartz, the family's youngest son, fell ill with chills and fever. His parents
feared that Spencer would succumb to the same malady that disabled them both. The
fever ran its course through the spring, into summer and finally subsided. Spencer was
given a clean bill of health (2). During the winter of 1835 - 1836 Jonathon Weldon
decided that his family had enough of the "prevalence of chills and fevers" and set out to
explore the valley of the Rock River ("Weldons Built").
Finding the Rock River Valley to his liking, Jonathon returned to Ottawa and
relocated his wife and children and, on May 25, 1836, the Weldon family arrived by
covered wagon in Rockford (Rockford Historical Society 3). "There were two houses on
east side of the river and three houses on the west of the river" (Church 655). The
Weldon family came to Rockford just days after Rockford had been named the official
Winnebago County seat (Chronological History 2). Not much information is given about
the Weldon Family from 1836 until 1838, when Captain Asa Werden Weldon, his wife
Eliza and their child Frances joined his brother Jonathon in the Rock River Valley
No information is given to describe the activities until January 29, 1 842, when
Asa Werden made a claim in southwest Winnebago County of 155.9 acres purchased for
$194.98 cash. Shortly after Asa's purchase, Jonathon staked a claim of his own not far
from his brother's property. On March 8, 1842, Jonathon purchased two 160- acre plots
of land for $200 a piece and these tracts of land were located six miles southwest of the
Rockford city limits in an area known then as the Dells (Public Domain Sales 1981).
Jonathon' s claim contained a good deal of cedar and pine trees and, with the help
of his bartering skills and the local sawmill, Jonathon built a log home for his wife and
children. "The Weldon log house was quite pretentious. It was about 20 feet square and
a story and a half high and has gables of pine boards and a porch and a boarded and
shingle roof. The floors were made of oak lumber" ("Weldons Built"). During the first
growing season in their new home, the Weldon 's were unable to produce any corn
because the cattle that roamed the prairies destroyed the crop. Beans and turnips were the
staple food of the family until late fall when they were able to purchase some corn from a
settler in Byron (Rockford Historical Society 3).
After establishing a crop, the family began to raise cattle and horses. During the
harsh winter of 1842 - 1843, the family's cattle nearly starved and the young boys of the
family gathered wild hay in order to feed the livestock. Then, a severe winter storm
swept the area of the Dells and the cattle strayed. They were found one week later in a
neighbor's fields huddled under bluffs barely clinging to life. In hopes to prevent the
same misfortune the following year, the cattle were turned into a neighbor's field and
Spencer Swartz went to live at the neighbor's home in order to tend the cattle (3).
Not wanting to be a farmer, Jonathon Weldon had originally hoped to become a
teacher in the area, but since there were no schools, he became a teamster instead
(Rowland 461). Jonathon hauled lumber until the sawmill was built and he hauled flour
until the gristmill was built. He hauled other necessities until the railroad came through
Rockford. "Jonathon Weldon became a prominent man and leader in the community. Of
him C.A. Huntington, a former Rockford man wrote in 1886: "Without exception he was
the most remarkable man I ever knew" (Weldons Built").
The Weldon Family became members of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church and
became dedicated Christians and earnest leaders. On May 1, 1849 Jonathon, Spencer and
Salmon were nominated as candidates for holy election. Salmon was elected as a
vestryman and a delegate to the Diocesan convention and Jonathon was elected as a
delegate to the convention (Emmanuel Episcopal Church 1849).
Eventually, Jonathon became a teacher at one of the first pioneer schools of the
county. Having brought a large supply of school books from the east to Ottawa, he had
them shipped to Rockford. Jonathon began his second teaching career in a one- room
school house (Rockford Historical Society 3). He taught there for two years and then
returned to his farming prospects. Later, Jonathon' s son Spencer donated land to the
school district for the location of a school built in 1905 ("Spencer Weldon" 1934).
This one-acre donation was made from a purchase that Spencer made from the
state of Illinois prior to 1 859. Spencer purchased 120 acres of land less than a half of
mile from his uncle's property (Public Domain Sales 1894). His purchase, paid in cash,
cost approximately $1.25 per acre. Here, Spencer and his wife, Agnes Kelley of Scotland,
whom he married on April 26, 1854, made their home. Shortly after the construction of
their home, Jonathon and Mary Weldon sold their property and moved in at the 3332 S.
Weldon Road location ("Spencer Weldon" 1923).
The Weldon Family became a powerful force in the creation of the Winnebago
Township and the Rockford area. They became outstanding citizens and church officials,
though not always liked. Jonathon became known as "Thousand Legs" because of the
physical deformity of his legs. Often he was the butt of jokes and cause of stares. One
night Jonathon was attacked in his home and blindfolded. He feared he was going to be
hung. Later his friends found him tarred and feathered in the fireplace of the one-room
school house (Thurston 65). Despite his physical disability, nothing stopped Jonathon
from fulfilling the pioneer's dream.
The tides turned on the fortune of the renowned Weldon Family when the
Emmanuel Episcopal Church decided to relocate its congregation. The church's new
location was too far away for the Weldon Family to attend and caused much anger and
hostility among the members of the Weldon Family. The Weldons abandoned their
positions as church leaders and set their sights on a promising new Christian
denomination. Eager for acceptance, the Weldon family embraced the local Church of
Triumphant. Their receipt of the cult-style religious beliefs lead to Heaven's creation and
to the scandal that rocked a county and a tragic decision that isolated this foremost family
The building blocks of Heaven lay rooted in a small farming community just
south of the Weldon Farm. In December 1883, Dora Beekman, the founder of the
Church of Triumphant, passed away. On her deathbed Dora appointed her successor,
George J. Schweinfurth. Schweinfurth, who was believed to be Jesus Christ's spirit
reincarnated, took the reigns of the religious sect Mrs. Beekman founded in 1871. This
small colony of believers quickly expanded under the leadership of George Schweinfurth.
Congregations were established all over the country from Chicago, Illinois; to St.
Charles, Minnesota; and as far away as Boulder, Colorado. This "False Christ" was
locally refuted by Rockford citizens as ten times worse than Brigham Young" (Jensen
1 8). The man who played God and his followers exploded into Rockford's highly
conservative settlement and rumors and scandals reached as far as the Chicago
George J. Schweinfurth was born to German parents in Marion, Ohio in 1853.
George was revered by his mother as introspective, insightful and a son of true devotion.
At twelve years old he was praised by a local minister that he possessed a divine
inspiration and was chosen by God to become a minister. With a fiery passion, George
became involved with the church. George and his parents relocated to Jackson County,
Michigan and shortly after the move experienced the most difficult year of his life with
the death of his mother. During his bereavement George appealed to the Church in
hopes of direction and betterment of his life. George attended a Methodist seminary and
impressed his professors with his intelligence and command of the English language,
although he never spoke English until the age of eleven. In 1 876 with the
recommendation of a good friend, George was given the authority to preach in the
Methodist Church. He empowered and motivated many local congregations even though
he was never ordained as a minister (Jensen 26).
George slowly began to believe the most evil of sins surmounted from inside the
church itself. He slowly began to drift away from the Methodist denomination. George
soon became infatuated with the teachings of Dora Fletcher Beekman, founder of the
Church Triumphant. Mrs. Beekman claimed to be the second manifestation of Christ.
She claimed midnight voices and angelic lights lead her to inherit the sinless spirit of
God. George promptly denounced the Methodist religion and began to spread the word
of the Church Triumphant ("Why Schweinfurth..."). In 1883, when Mrs. Beekman died
her body was displayed publicly for three days in expectation of her resurrection. When
Mrs. Beekman did not rise from the dead George assumed her position as head of the
Church Triumphant (Jensen 26).
The beliefs of the Church Triumphant can be best described as Christian
Socialism and George J. Schweinfurth as a Christian Marxist. Their communal lives
were simple and every action was made for the common good. Believers were to have a
full understanding of Christ's teachings and carry them out in every day life, especially in
the relations with their fellow man. The members of the church did not believe in the
institution of marriage. The Church of Triumphant carried on Sunday services, but not
like other religious denominations. George gave his sermon with no planning, but with
the conviction inside himself at that very moment. His sermons were carefully reported
and then supplied to the other congregations. No member was to seek wealth or power or
hoard his/her property.
The church was built from monetary "gifts" from its members, though it was
believed George kept the finances for himself ("Why Schweinfurth...").
"In May of 1888 Spencer Swartz Weldon sold his 800 acre farm to George Schweinfurth
for $28550" ("A Winnebago Farmer..."). The Weldon farm served as headquarters for
the church and the center of the communal life. Spencer, his father Jonathon, his five
sons and one daughter openly embraced this faith and regarded George as Jesus Christ
Incarnate. "Physically speaking it was not difficult to believe George as an image of
Christ. George's appearance compared to biblical characters including Jesus Christ and
John the Baptist. George had flowing auburn hair and beard, delicate features and
piercing brown eyes" ("Jail Bars. .."). With such a deep devotion to this "Messiah" the
Weldon family willingly sold their land and home to the agrarian commune. "Altogether
seven Weldons joined the Church of Triumphant by the year 1900" (Winnebago County
Life in the commune was similar to Quaker or Amish arrangements. Men and
women slept separately, even the married couples. Men tended to the farming, livestock
and the heavy manual labor. Women were in charge of cooking, cleaning and child
raising. The children were schooled on the farm and seldom left the commune. There
was a church member doctor who lived on the farm who possessed a fully stocked
pharmacy. The women slept in the home itself and assigned specific tasks. Their rooms
were decorated according to status. The most revered women in the society dwelled in
the more lavish rooms. The men were deprived of even the simplest luxuries. Their
rooms were furnished in the barn and contained bunk-beds and raw wooden furniture. At
the height of communal society approximately fifty to sixty people were housed on the
farm. Over $20,000 in additions were financed by George in order to accommodate the
growing population. Over 246 feet in circumference was added to the main house
containing 76 new windows ("When Schweinfurth. . ." Northwest News).
Though a life lead by Christ's teachings in a communal farming society seems
peaceful, life on the Weldon farm was not always heaven. It was rumored that occupants
of Heaven were drawn in by an elaborate recruiting scheme. Supposedly, male members
of the Church Triumphant posed as bible salesman and combed the countryside. They
targeted wealthy, young, attractive women. After impressing the woman and her family
with his knowledge of the Bible, the traveling salesman would ask if he could return later
that evening in hopes of engaging in a religious discussion. If the family accepted his
offer the man would return later that evening. The salesman attempted to awe the young
woman with his scholarly knowledge and theological awareness, in hopes of catching her
eye. Once entranced by the salesman's stare, it was said that she lost all knowledge of
her words and actions. These trances the woman experienced are probably best described
as hypnotism or raw animal magnetism. Now fully enslaved by the salesman's stare, she
would steal away with him into the night (McCleneghan 51-60).
Once she arrived at George J. Schweinfurth's Heaven, the young woman was
stripped of her possessions including money, jewelry, and clothing. These donations to
the church were considered tithes. She was then stripped of her given name, dressed in
communal clothing and presented to "Christ". Supposedly she next announced
Schweinfurth as the messiah and then was assigned to her tasks (60-68). "This is what
one occupant said on daily life in Heaven: Schweinfurth expected her to give up her life
and soul to him with no thoughts, no will, no aspirations of her own, living only to
execute his will. Assigned kitchen duties, she often worked from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m..
Meals consisted of bread and vegetables". One outraged woman became the first "fallen
angel" from Heaven. Mrs. Medora Miller Kinehan, disillusioned, walked away during a
Schweinfurth absence. She described Schweinfurth as "Satan in sheep's clothing". "She
said that Schweinfurth entered women's rooms during the day and women entered his
room at night" (Jensen 26).
This fallen angel described the rites of passage for George's young and attractive
disciples. The women of the colony could move up in status in the commune. With
devout service and a Christ-like attitude one could become an angel, most revered by
commune members and George himself. "To obtain the absolute holiest status in the
Heaven commune one must complete the 'Garden of Eden' test. For this test it was
necessary for the potential angel to enter into his presence in the absolute state of nudity.
The potential angel would lie all night with George and allow him to look upon her and
bless her. Some women remembered feeling "strange sensations" and then bore red-
haired children through supposed immaculate conception, but they could not recollect
any of the activities of the evening" ("Jail Bars"... 2).
The sex scandal took the region by storm. Stories of illegitimate red-headed
children filled the neighbor's minds and packed Rockford's churches with infuriated
parties. "The community had tried to get rid of Schweinfurth the arrant knave in 1 890.
Incensed by blasphemy and embarrassed by the news coverage, Rockford citizens
demanded action" ("Jail Bars. . . 2"). The outraged citizens advocated a "tar and feather"
party organized by a Rockford pastor, although they took no action (26). " In 1 895 three
female cult members and George Schweinfurth were formally charged with adultery and
fornication" (Rockford Morning Star, 1895). They, however, were later acquitted of the
charges when State's Attorney Charles Works said, "I can see no way that Schweinfurth
can be brought within criminal code" (Jensen 26).
Rockford area citizens flocked by the hundreds to the Weldon Farm to catch a
glimpse of these deviants, although cult members attested to the "purity of heart and life".
"The alleged carryings-on in 'Heaven' both amused and shocked Rockford and the world
for 20 years" (Jensen 25). "These angels were said to have danced around in flesh
colored tights to entertain the "Messiah" (1976). Rumors of mile- long reception lines
for the returning Messiah, healings, resurrections, and death filled the countryside
The Church Triumphant and Heaven disbanded sometime in the early 1900s.
George Schweinfurth stepped down as head of the church and returned the farm to the
Weldon family. George and his family moved to Rockford where he pursued a career in
real estate. George later moved to Chicago where he contracted typhoid fever and died
in 1910 in isolation (Jensen 26). The church itself fell apart almost as quickly as it began.
No one to this day really knows what went on in those six years at the Weldon
Farm. The Weldon family themselves over the years have been very reluctant to speak
about it. The Weldon Farm has been passed down through the generations and to this
day is owned by a Weldon. Haunted tales fill neighbor's and children's ears like
Schweinfurth 's rocking chair rocking by itself on Sundays, lights turning on and off by
themselves and the apparitions of two "angels" appearing on the lawn of the home. As
they attempted to escape the realms of Heaven, supposedly they were killed at a railroad
crossing in the process. As punishment for their attempted escape their corpses were
placed in open caskets for commune observation for one week straight. Other tales of
children laughing when no children live in the home and head imprints in pillows when
there is no one on the bed fill the imaginations of local high school students. (Johnson)
Although there are no horrific tales of grisly death like the Amityville Home, these tales
of supernatural happening have survived almost a century.
Hidden in the farmlands of rural Winnebago County, Illinois lies an exquisite
home, whose windows are like eyes to its soul. Encased in centuries- old trees, the
Weldon Farm still serves its original purpose. Today the Weldon Farm is leased to a
tenant who makes his living as a dairy farmer. The faded rose color and the contrasting
white lattice of the house's design remind the onlooker of the significant story the house
has told. From the prosperity of a wealthy farmer to the scandal that rocked the county to
the disgrace of an outcast family, the Weldon Farm has proven its historical significance
in Winnebago County, Illinois.
"$8 Per Month Was Good Pay For Teachers: Weldon School Fete Recalls Pioneer
Education". Rockford Morning Star . Sunday October 5, 1930.
"A Big Mortgage on Heaven". Rockford Morning Star. Rockfordiana Files, Rockford
Public Library. February 4, 1891.
Chronological History . Rockford Historical Society. September 27, 2002
Church, Charles. Past and Present of Winnebago County . 1900. page 655.
Detailed Weldon Home. Photographer Unknown. Acquired from the Winnebago Public
Library, Local History Room. No Date.
Early Winnebago County Home. Photographer Unknown. Acquired from the Rockford
Register Gazette. January 19, 1915
Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Rockford, Illinois. May 1, 1849.
"Geo. J. Schweinfurth Dies From Typhoid Fever". Rockford Daily Register Gazette.
September 24, 1956.
George J. Schweinfurth. Artist Unknown. Acquired from Six Years in Heaven , Alex
George Schweinfurth. Artist Unknown. Acquired from the Rock Valley Forge .
April 24, 1974.
Hilton and Hilton. Middle Creek and Winnebago Cemetery Records . March 1981.
Illinois History . Illinois State Museum. October 2, 2002.
"Jail Bars Kept Gay '90s Prophet From the Pearly Gates". Northwest News .
Jackson, Ernest. 1860 Federal Census: Winnebago County, Illinois. 1983.
Jackson, Ernest. 1870 Federal Census: Winnebago County, Illinois. 1983.
Jackson, Ernest. 1880 Federal Census: Winnebago County, Illinois. 1983.
Jackson, Ernest. 1900 Federal Census: Winnebago County, Illinois. 1983.
Jackson, Ernest. 1910 Federal Census: Winnebago County, Illinois. 1983.
Jensen, Peggy. "Heaven's Rake". Rockford Magazine. February 1989; pages 18-26.
Johnson, Blair. Personal Interview. September 15, 2002.
McCleneghan, Alex. Six Years in Heaven. Laird & Lee Publishers. Chicago, 1 894.
Outline of American History- Westward Expansion. October 2, 2002.
http : //www, dicksho vel . com . i 11 . html
"Public Domain Sales Land Tract Record Listing". Archives Division: State of Illinois.
November 20, 1984
Rockford Historical Society. Old Settler's Corner. "Mr. Spencer Weldon". Nuggets of
History, Rockford Public Library. No Date.
Rowland, Katherine. The Pioneers of Winnebago and Boone Counties Who Came
Before 1841. 1900, pages 460-461.
Rowley, John. Personal Interview. October 15, 2002.
"Spencer S. Weldon". Rockford Morning Star . Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public
Library. May 12, 1923.
"Spencer Weldon Called At Ninety Years". Rockford Register Gazette . Local History
Room, Winnebago Public Library. January 19, 1915.
Sweeney Chuck. "George J. Schweinfurth: Rockford's False Christ". Rock Valley
Forge. April 24, 1974, pages 10-11.
Thurston, John. Reminiscences Sporting and Otherwise of Early Days in Rockford. 1891,
Pages 64 -65.
The Weldon Home, Main Entrance. Photographer Unknown. Acquired from the
Northwest News . No Date.
The Weldon Home, looking west. Photographer Unknown. Acquired from the
Winnebago Public Library, Local History Room. No Date.
"Weldons Built Log Home Near Dells in 1836". Rockford Republic . Rockfordiana Files,
Rockford Public Library. May 22, 1934.
"When Schweinfurth Played God". No Author. Northwest News. No Date.
"Why Schweinfurth Dissolved His Rockford "Heaven"". Rockford Daily Register
Gazette. Saturday July 14, 1900.
"A Winnebago Farmer Deeds His $28, 550 Farm to the Cause". Rockford Morning Star .
Rockfordiana Files, Rockford Public Library. 1888.
j Early Winnebago County Home
Jonathan 'Weldon's- log cabin which stood six .miles southwest of Rockford and' a'inile'south'of the
aesi^^fildfitt; -schools* "Eie-,,pJi:Lure is- fccmva. pencil sketch made.by.SpJpmoniWeldorii.ia: son. of .Jonathan
THF CENTER OF CONTROVERSY-Some people say he claimed to be
SrlfbShesaid about himself was "I am -hat 1 am ; an am
biguity guaranteed to be interpreted any number of wa He s George
J Schweinfurth, a rather distinguished looking chap, and in the 1890s
ibis name was synonomous with Rockfords. So how come he's been
writteTout of local accounts of the area's history? Perhaps a few em-
ErSSS descendants? In high places? One tttag I. ^««~>
got to know the true story. But no one's talking ^TLI*!, Z
published on the subject, but it's said someone bought back all the
copies and destroyed them.
The Weldon House
Weldon House, looking west
Detailed Weldon House
"Til Death Do We Meet?"
Winnebago County Coroner's Office
Public Safety Building
420 West State Street
Rockford, Illinois 61101
By: Kari A. Allen-Limberg
Rock Valley College
English Composition - fall 2002
Dedicated In Loving Memory Of
Robert A. Allen
November 3, 1917 - November 5, 1982
Kari A. Allen-Limberg
English 101, Section N A- 1
November 25, 2002
The Winnebago County Coroner's Office investigates an estimated 2,600 -
2,700 deaths per year. Since Rockford is the second largest city in Illinois, the statistics
are alarming. Investigations are conducted to determine the actual cause, of death and
the manor in which they occurred (Canode).
According to Winnebago County Coroner, Sue Fiduccia, ""Originally the
coroner's office was located in a funeral parlor at 216 North 6th Street, Rockford,
Illinois. Some years later, it moved to 400 West State then, in the late "70s, it was
relocated to the Public Safety Building at 420 West State Street."
Meanwhile, "The earliest application of forensic medicine had to do with the
interdiction against suicide, which has been regarded as a crime against the public
interest since before the birth of Christ" (Fisher).
"In the tenth century suicide became a crime under the common law in England,
and in 1 184 the Council of Nimes made the condemnation of suicide part of the canon
of Roman Catholic Church" (Fisher).
The historical development of medicolegal investigation in America can be
clearly traced back to the English coroner system, which had developed in that country
some 600 years before. Later, the office of the coroner is formally described in
September, 1 194, the justices in erye were required to provide that three knights and
one clerk were elected in every county as keepers of the crown. The appointment then
included the coroner's duties. The term coroner applied to the individual charged
under this law (Wilson).
However, before the Public Safety Building was conceived in Rockford, Illinois,
where the Winnebago County Coroner's Office resides, a demolition took place to
make room for the up coming construction.
Some structures included in the destruction included The Leath Furniture
building at 502 West State, WRRR radio station studios and parking, sheriffs
department parking, and about twenty second-floor apartments. ("2-Building Public
Safety Complex Urged").
Also, some local important headlines in the news during the early trimester
consisted of, in January 1973, a federal grant $80,600 had been awarded for the
establishment of work release program for the Winnebago County prisoners,
announced by Representative John B. Anderson. ("Jail Work Release Program
Receives $84,000 Grant").
Around the region, America was grieving the loss of many famous people,
including Coco Chanel, fashion designer, Jim Morrison, lead singer from the Doors,
and J.C. Penney, the founder of the department store chain (Clifton).
Back in Rockford, however, on August fifth 1971, a two-building public safety
complex had been proposed by the Northern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission
(NILEC). The recommendation had been made in secret letters given to the City
Council's Urban Renewal Committee. Regional director James B. Peterson gave no
reason for the secrecy surrounding the proposal. ("2-Building Public Safety Complex
Finally, in December 1971, the Public Safety Building made its unofficial debut.
A model was unveiled for area law enforcement officers who had attended a policy
appreciation dinner held at the Faust Hotel. ("Public Safety Model Unveiled").
During the gestation period for the Public Safety Building and residence of the
Winnebago County Coroner's Office, numerous obstacles and hurdles had to be over-
come including the following.
First of all, the county hoped to put federal revenue funds into the 1973 budget
releasing other funds for the proposed $8.6 million law enforcement complex. The
door to this indirect route of funding was closed, however, by Lawrence Woodworm,
chief of staff of the joint congressional committee on the internal revenue taxation.
Because of this, there is a provision which applies to both state and local governments
which says the revenue sharing funds cannot be used directly or indirectly to match
federal grant ("Safety Building Denied Revenue Sharing Funds").
Second, a law dating back to 1915 snagged the building project. "The law,
which states jails cannot be built "within 200 feet of any building used exclusively for
school purposes,' must be amended or waived before the $9.7 million project can be
financed, a joint committee of city and county officials were told Friday."' ("Safety
Building Project Snagged by Old State Law").
In addition, to all the failed triumphs another roadblock hit Rockford square in
the face. The financing plan, proposed by Winnebago County Board chairman Peter
Perrecone, called for the city using $800,000 in capital improvement funds and
$400,000 each year for the next three years to raise the city's $2 million share of the
construction ("Finance Plan for Proposed Safety Building Still in Limbo").
Back to the site's development stage the Northern Illinois Law Enforcement
Commission (NILEC), Director James B. Peterson, was one of the original people
suggesting the new site. "NILEC's architectural consultants, Orput and Orput, Inc.,
reportedly looked at blocks north and east of the courthouse before deciding to
recommend the Leath Furniture and WRRR site ("Public Safety Building Unveiled").
In contrast, the entire construction period for the Public Safety Building and
Winnebago County Coroner's Office stretched roughly six enduring years. Upon the
initial proposal, which dated back to August 5, 1971, completion did not occur until
several years later on Monday January 10, 1977 ("PSB Moving Date Set for Jan. 10").
A number of construction firms had a piece of the pie developing the Public
Safety Building site. For example, architectural consultants, Orput and Orput Inc.,
Dore Wrecking Co. of Kawkawlin, Michigan, Jet Excavating Co., and Rockford Black
Top, were a few to get the multimillion dollar project underway.
Then came the costs and budgets that had to be worked in. One of the very first
stated 'Total cost of the project has been estimated at $5 to $6 million, of which about
$4 million would be paid by the federal government ("2-Building Public Safety
Much to everyone's surprise, "Building Bids Hit $9 Million." This hit the headlines
just months after the low cost of $5-6 million had been estimated. Some of the bids for
construction companies included the following: $4,993,523 by J. P. Cullen & Son
Construction, Janesville. WI., for general construction. $497,800 by Gale R. Miller,
Inc., Rockford, for precast architectural concrete. $74,357 by Jim Michel Building
Specialties, Milwaukee, WI. for hollow metal work. $176,000 by National Glass Co.,
1925 Kishwaukee St., for aluminum entrances and window framing. $122,679 by
Ruffalo Decorating Co., Inc., Kenosha, WI., for painting and finishing. $200,580 by
Lamps Elevator Sales, 3103 Wallin Ave., for elevators. $643,000 by Osbonvs
Plumbing and Heating, Beloit, WI.,
for plumbing. $700,300 by Bob G. Enity Co., Inc., Horicon, WI., for heating work.
$157,300 by Honeywell, Inc., Madison WI., for temperature control. $788,800 by
Johnson Sheet Metal Works, East Moline, for ventilating. And last of all, $634,250 by
Althoff s Industries, McHenry, for electrical work ("Building Bids Hit $9 Million").
By the time the actual structure of the Public safety Building was officially up
and running, including the Winnebago County Coroner's Office, the costs were
alarmingly over $12 million dollars. It was over twice the amount of the first proposal.
("PSB Cost is Nearing $12 Million ').
Numerous conflicts were encountered during the construction phase. Some of
these obstacles included the following: "Attorney John F. Pelgen, whose office is at
518 W. State St., said he won't move until the city reimburses him for approximately
$7,200 in additional rent he said he will have to pay if he moves."
("New Safety Building Gets Stumbling Start").
Meanwhile, City Engineer, Ronald Heinen, sent Mayor Robert McGaw a memo
stating the demolition in the 100 block of S. Court and the 500 block of W. State could
not be completed until January fifthteenth.
McGaw then told David Lindberg, acting director of the Northern Illinois Law
Enforcement Commission, that the demolition must be completed by December 1 5th.
This also meant a quicker demolition would require more men at an increased rate.
(•'New Safety Building Gets Stumbling Start").
Next, came at least two unions to picket the demolition at the Public Safety
Building site. "Members of the Teamsters Local No. 325 and Laborers Local No. 32
are both expected to picket this morning. State and Federal laws require contractors
doing government or federally funded; work to pay their employees the standard wage
for the city in which the job is located. ("2 Unions Picket Demolition at Public Safety
"Chabucos and other union officials said they had learned the demolition firm
was not paying the prevailing wage for Rockford, but had been unable to obtain
information from the city." ("2 Unions Picket Demolition at Public Safety Site").
Moreover, the stumbling blocks did not stop there. Construction had many
difficulties obtaining sufficient amounts of fuel. Smith Oil agreed to deliver 280
gallons of diesel to Jet Excavating Co. Equipment authorized form state and federal
officials ("City Fuel Aid Keys Project).
However, the Chicago-based wrecking firm began work earlier in the day. One
hundred gallons of diesel fuel in 50-gallon barrels was delivered and arranged by
Washburn. The fuel obtained was obtained with the agreement that he would not tell
who had supplied it and would be replaced within a week ("2 Unions Picket
Demolition at Public Safety Site).
In summary, the Public Safety Building was a difficult time-consuming project,
which had affected city and county officials, construction firms, local businesses,
single family dwellings, but also the entire Winnebago County as a whole.
The Winnebago County Coroner's Office has progressed with the times,
however, it still shares similarities to its past.
"Back when the office was first constructed in the Public Safety Building, it had
a very limited amount of space. Now, with recent retirements, a two-office expansion
and remodeling job is now in the works'* states Winnebago County Chief Deputy
Coroner Ron Canode.
In the past, upon entering the coroner's office located in room B-104, it
possessed an extremely unwelcoming appearance. The surroundings were cold and
callous. The offices had steel desks, metal filing cabinets, and bulky rotary telephones.
Currently, the environment has taken on a whole new look. Today, the reception area
is painted a canary yellow and trimmed with a pastel decorative border. A mauve and
blue Asian rug warms the floor. The walls embrace an old photo of downtown
Rockford, patriotic poems, and a host of natures most breath taking scenes. Nestled by
the secretary's desk is a clear vase with multi-colored marbles and a single Beta Fish
brightening up the room as he gracefully swims a ballot.
Meanwhile, the staff has also changed over the years. " In 1979, the staff
consisted of one Coroner, one Chief Deputy Coroner, one Deputy Coroner, four Part-
time deputies, one secretary, and six volunteer Coroner's Jury" (Canode). In 2002,
these figures have changed. "The current staff includes the following: one full-time
Coroner, one Chief Deputy Coroner, two Designated Investigators, three Deputy
Coroner's, one secretary, and six-elected Coroner's Jury" (Canode).
One of the drastic changes with the staff includes the six-person Coroner's Jury.
"Years ago, when the jury formed, it was based on a volunteer or word of mouth
selection. Any unnatural or suspicious deaths all the members of the jury would be
contacted at any time of the day or night and went to the actual death. This may have
consisted of a crime scene, hospital, or car wreck" (Canode). This at times held up
crucial investigations when jury members could not be located or perhaps rolled over
in bed and went back to sleep.
Presently, Coroner's Jury is selected in much the same way as a jury in a
courtroom. The team is rotated as needed or suggested. Some of the guidelines
followed, for instance, members with experience retained are valuable, fresh members
on occasion for new outlooks, and also, the discretion of the jury pool if more
individuals are needed or decline coroner's jury. Ms. Fiduccia interviews and makes
the final decisions. "Now the jury has access to crime scene photos, physical evidence,
the victim, and all police, coroner's, and pathologist reports" (Canode). They meet in
the Coroner's Inquest Room located in the basement. This way seems to be much
more efficient than traveling all over Winnebago County to gather information.
"Historically, senior members performed training on the job. In those days they
had no adequate training, schools, or seminars" (Canode). In contrast, today the
prerequisites are a great deal different. "One must have at least a high school diploma
or equivalent. Also, have either medical background such as a Paramedic, or
Emergency Medical Technician, or a Law Enforcement background. Now, the staff
members attend certified schooling programs, which are consistent nationally, Public
Agency Training Council, (based out of Indianapolis), and frequent seminars"
In recent times money was allotted for training and seminars to keep up with
current times. Unfortunately, with the harsh reality of the economy, this account has
almost been completely deleted due to recent steep cuts within the budget.
Some similarities from the past and present are held sacred in the lower level of
the coroner's office. First, is the room where the Coroner's inquests are held. The
cinder block walls have recently been painted a tranquil sky blue and the border has
been stenciled with a green flowing ivy circling the room. Clinging to the walls
straight ahead are two framed ocean scenes. In the center of the room sits a long
rectangular table with several folding chairs surrounding it. To the left, there are some
more seats lined against the wall. These are for family members whom wish to sit in
on the inquest.
Next, is the viewing room. This is where a family member identifies the body.
On the right side of this awfully compact room is an old black, vinyl sofa. Directly in
front of the sofa on the opposite side of the room is a large glass picture window with
light blue drapes hanging on the inside of the pane. There are two switches to the right
hand side of the glass window. One of the switches is a light; the other opens the
drapes promptly. As the curtains spread apart, a steel gurney with the corpse is visible
and surrounding the other three sides are yellow curtains to block the view of the
Then, there is the laboratory exam room. To the left is the entry to the cooler. "It
can hold ten bodies comfortably, but in case of a disaster thirty could squeeze in"
(Canode). On the wall to the right are two lights to examine x-rays with. Close to the
center of the room is a steel table with several dime-size holes in each of the panels.
As Mr. Canode explained the lab he jumped up on the exam table and said, "Trust me,
this is literally clean enough to eat off!" Directly above hangs a digital scale to weigh
internal organs and tissues. The cabinets hold several instruments crucial in
performing an autopsy. At the opposite end of the room on the right is an enormous
scale that the deceased are weighed on while resting on a gurney each weighing 58.5
pounds. This is subtracted from the digital scale to obtain an accurate weight. If the
body exceeds 500-600 pounds a hoist with thick heavy chains enables the body to be
Across from the scale on the other side of the room is an old-fashioned autoclave
machine. This piece of equipment is used to sterilize instruments and other items that
could harbor biohazards.
Primarily, the lower level has not changed much besides a fresh coat of paint, a
computer, digital scales, and new coroner vehicles.
In conclusion, there will always be mysterious deaths in the world, but with
modern technologies and computer databases connecting more of the unknown will be
solved and put to rest. If it was not for people like Sue Fiduccia, Ron Canode, and a
host of intelligent wonderful staff, the Winnebago County Coroner's system would not
function with the expertise and excellence that has assisted this community in so many
"2-Building Public Safety Complex Urged/' Rockford Morning Star. 5 August 1971.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"2- Building Public Safety Complex Urged. " Photographer unknown.
Rockford Morning Star. 5 August 1971. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library.
" 2 Unions to Picket Demolition at Public Safety Site."' Rockford Star. 1 3 December
1973. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Building Bids Hit $9 Million." Rockford Register Star. 12 January 1974.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
Canode, Ron. Winnebago County, Chief Deputy Coroner. Personal interview.
Canode, Ron. Winnebago County, Chief Deputy Coroner. Personal interview.
"City Agrees on PSB Role." Photographer / Artist unknown. Rockford Star.
26 October 1973. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"City Fuel Aid Keys Project." Rockford Star. 13 December 1973.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
Clifton, Daniel. Editor in Chief. Chronicle of the 20th Century. Chronicle
Publications Inc. Suite 311, 105 South Bedford Road, Mount Kisco, N.Y.,
10549. American Edition.
"Demolition Date Extended for Public Safety Building Site." Photographer
unknown. Rockford Star. 22 January 1974. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library.
"Dignitaries Gathered on the Partially Completed Upper Levels of the Public
Safety Building for the Building's 1975 'Topping Off Ceremony."
Photographer unknown. Rockford Star. 1975.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Excavation Begins." Photographer unknown. Rockford Register Republic .
19 February 1974. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
Fiduccia, Sue. Winnebago County Coroner. Personal interview. September 2002.
Fiduccia, Sue. Winnebago County Coroner. Personal interview. October 2002.
"Finance Plan for Proposed Safety Building Still in Limbo." Rockford Star.
28 September 1973. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
Fisher S. Russell, Revised by Piatt S. Marvin. " Forensic Sciences in Antiquity."
History of Forensic Pathology And Related Laboratory Sciences. No date.
"Future Location." Photographer Scott Fisher. November 2002.
"Jail Work Release Program Receives $84,000 Grant." Rockford Register Star.
2 October 1972. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Model of Proposed Winnebago County Public Safety Building ... 140,000-Square
Foot Design Proposed." Photo by Joe Snyder . Rockford Register Star.
16 February 1972. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"New Safety Building Gets Stumbling Start." Rockford Register Republic .
31 October 1973. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Preliminary Drawing for the 8.6 Million Public Safety Building ... Plans are now
Awaiting Written Conformation of Federal Funding/' Photographer unknown.
Rockford Register Star. 21 August 1972. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library.
"Present Location." Photographer Scott Fisher. November 2002.
"Public Agrees on PSB Role/' Photographer unknown. Rockford Star.
26 October 1973. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"PSB Cost is Nearing $12 Million." Rockford Star. 9 February 1974.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"PSB Moving Date Set for Jan. 10" Rockford Star. 8 December 1977.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Public Safety Building Model Unveiled ." Rockford Register Star.
4 December 1971. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Public Safety Building Will Go Up Here." Photographer unknown.
Rockford Republic. 29 August 1972. Rockfordiana Files.
Rockford Public Library.
"Safety Building Denied Revenue Sharing Funds." Rockford Star. 12 October 1972.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Safety Building Project Snagged by Old State Law." Rockford Register Star.
13 January 1973. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"Speeches, Shivering Band Mark Groundbreaking." Photographer unknown.
Rockford Register Republic. 28 January 1974.
Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"The Shell of What Would Become the Public Safety Building More Than a Year
Later Was Already Taking Shape in July of 1975." Photographer unknown.
Rockford Star. July 1975. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
"The Public Safety Building, Shortly Before Completion, Rises From Downtown
Rockford on the West Side. At the Time it was Considered Escape-proof. ,,
Photographer unknown. Rockford Star. N o date.
Wilson,E.F. and Fisher, R.S., "The Medical Examiner System in Maryland."
Md State Med J, 17:15 (December), 1968.
"Wrecking Firm Fail Again on Deadline." Photographer unknown. Rockford Star.
29 January 1974. Rockfordiana Files. Rockford Public Library.
County of Winnebago
State of Illinois
Elizabeth "Sue" Fidi
Public Safety Building County Cor
420 W. State Street (81 5) 987!
Rockford, Illinois 61101 Fax: (815) 987-f
DEATHS FALLING IN ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES MUST BE REPORTED TO
THE CORONER OF WINNEBAGO COUNTY:
1. D.O.A. (DEAD ON ARRIVAL)
- 2. ALL HOME DEATHS UNLESS A PHYSICIAN IS PRESENT TO MAKE PRONOUNCEMENT OF
3. WHEN A PHYSICIAN HAS NOT SEEN THE PATIENT IN THE IMMEDIATE THIRTY (30) DAYS
PRIOR TO DEATH, FOR THE CONDITION WHICH CAUSED THE DEATH .
4. ANY DEATH DUE TO OTHER THAN NATURAL CAUSES.
5. PATIENT'S WHO HAVE BEEN HOSPITALIZED LESS THAN TWENTY FOUR (24) HOURS
6. ALL CASES UNDER ANESTHESIA (LOCAL OR GENERAL) WHO EXPIRE IN SURGERY, OR
BEFORE RECOVERY FROM ANESTHESIA, OR IN THE BIRTH ROOM OR IN THE
CORONARY CARE UNIT, IF NOT RECOVERED FROM ANESTHESIA.
7. ALL PROCEDURAL DEATHS INCLUDING KIDNEY DIALYSIS, HEART CATHERIZATION, X-
8. ANY SUSPICIOUS DEATH THAT IS UNEXPECTED, SUDDEN OR UNUSUAL.
9. WHEN ALCOHOL, NARCOTICS, BARBTURATES, TRANQUILIZERS, OR ANY DRUG IS
INVOLVED (EITHER: ACUTE, CHRONIC, OR COMPLICATIONS OF).
10. WHERE THERE HAS BEEN ANY TYPE OF INJURY, RECENT OR OLD, WITHIN THE PAST
TWELVE (12) MONTHS.
1 1 . ANY PATIENT WHO IS THE WARD OF THE STATE
12. DEATHS WHICH ARE THE RESULT OF: HANGING, BURNS (NO MATTER HOW SMALL),
ELECTROCUTION, DROWNING, GUNSHOT, STAB OR CUTTING WOUNDS, LIGHTNING
(OR SUSPECTED LIGHTNING), TETANUS AND RABIES.
1 3. POSSIBLE CONTAGIOUS DISEASE WITHIN THE PAST THIRTY (30) DAYS.
14. STARVATION, PRIVATION, EXPOSURE, OR ANY PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARD.
15. STILLBIRTHS, UNATTENDED BY A PHYSICIAN, OR ANY UNDIAGNOSED INFANT DEATH.
16. FEMALES SUSPECTED OF ABORTION, OR DEATH FOLLOWING A THERAPEUTIC
ABORTION OR RECENT PREGNANCY.
17. FIREMAN - INVOLVED IN WORKING FIRES, THAT DIE WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS OF SAID
FIRE (BECAUSE OF THE VARIOUS CHEMICALS RELEASED DURING A FIRE, ETC.)
ANY OF THE ABOVE MUST BE INVESTIGATED
NOTE: AUTOPSIES ON CORONER'S GASRS, Wll I BF DETERMINED BY THE CORONER OR A
NOTE: DO NOT PERMIT REMOVAL OF THE BODY FROM THE PREMISES, UNTIL THE CORONER OR
A DEPUTY HAS BEEN NOTIFIED.
DATED: JANUARY 2002 ELIZABETH "SUE" FIDUCCIA
WINNEBAGO COUNTY CORONER
It is our mission to provide high quality services and promote a safe community for all people In the county.
County of Winnebago
State of Illinois
Elizabeth "Sue" Rduc
Public Safety Building County Coro
420 W. State Street (81 5) 987-51
Rockford, Illinois 61 1 01 Fax: (81 5) 987-5?
General "Reporting of a Death" Information:
NOTIFICATION IN CASE OF DEATH BY VIOLENCE OR SUICIDE:
Any person who discovers the body or acquires the first knowledge of the death of any person
who died as the result of criminal or other violent means, or by casualty, or by suicide, or
suddenly when in apparent health, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, shall immediately
notify the Office of the Coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and
circumstances of such death, and of any other information which is required by the Coroner.
NOTIFICATION BY HOSPITAL
Any person D.O.A. (Dead on Arrival) at hospitals, these cases are to be reported immediately,
and no person shall, without the order from the Office of the Coroner, willfully touch, remove,
disturb the body or disturb the clothing or any article upon or near such body. This includes any
death which occurs within twenty-four (24) hours after admission.
NOTIFICATION BY PHYSICIAN IN CASE OF DEATH BY VIOLENCE OR SUICIDE
When any person dies as a result of criminal or other violent means, or by casualty, or by
suicide, or suddenly when in apparent health, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, the Physician
called in attendance shall immediately notify the Office of the Coroner of the known facts concerning the
time, place, manner and circumstances of such death and if request is made for cremation, the Funeral
Director called in attendance shall immediately notify the Coroner.
I. ACCIDENTAL DEATHS (ALL FORMS, INCLUDING DEATH ARISING FROM EMPLOYMENT)
1 . Anesthetic Accident (Death on the operating table prior to recovery from anesthesia).
2. Blows or other forms of mechanical violence
3. Crushed beneath falling object
5. Cutting or stabbing
6. Drowning (actual or suspected)
7. Electric shock
1 1 . Fractures of bones (not pathological). Such cases are to be reported even when the
fracture is not primarily responsible for the death. All hip fractures, if patient dies within
one (1) year and one (1) month is considered a Coroner's Case and the Coroner must be
13. Carbon monoxide poisoning (resulting from natural gas, automobile exhaust or other)
15. Heat exhaustion
16. Insolation (sunstroke)
17. Poisoning (food poisoning, occupational, or other)
It Is our mission to provide high quality services and promote a safe community for all people In the county.
19. Suffocation (foreign object in bronchi, by bed clothing or other means).
20. Vehicular Accidents (automobile, street car, bus, railroad, motorcycle, bicycle or other)
II. HOMICIDAL DEATHS
III. SUICIDAL DEATHS
IV. ABORTIONS: CRIMINAL OR SELF - INDUCED
When the manner of death falls within the above classification, such death must be reported to the
Coroner, even though the survival period subsequent to onset is 12 months.
V. SUDDEN DEATHS: WHEN IN APPARENT HEALTH OR IN ANY SUSPICIOUS OR UNUSUAL
1 . 'Alcoholism
2. Sudden death on the street, at home, in a public place, at place of employment
3. Deaths under unknown circumstances, whenever there are no witnesses or where little or
no information can be elicited concerning the deceased person. Death of this type include
those persons whose dead bodies are found in the open, in places of temporary shelter, or
in their home under conditions which after no clues to the cause of death.
4. Deaths which follow injuries sustained at place of employment whenever the circumstances
surrounding such injury may ultimately be subject of investigation. Deaths of this
Caisson Disease (bends), Industrial Infections (Anthrax, Septicemia following wounds
including gas bacillus infections, tetanus, etc.), silicosis, industrial poisonings (acids,
alkalies, analine, bensine, carbon monoxide, carbon tetrachloride, cyanogen, lead, nitrous
fumes, etc.), contusions, abrasions, fractures, bums (flames, chemical or electrical)
received during employment which in the opinion of the attending physician are sufficiently
important, either as the cause or contributing factor to the cause of death, to warrant
certifying them on the death certificate.
5. All stillborn infants where there is suspicion of illegal interference
6. Deaths of persons where the attending physician cannot be found, or deaths of persons who
have not been attended by a physician within thirty (30) days prior to the date of death.
7. All deaths occurring within twenty four (24) hours of admission to a hospital.
8. All hip fractures. If the patient dies within one (1) year and one (1) month, will be a Coroner's
case and the Coroner must be notified.
9. All deaths of State Institutions and all deaths of Wards of the State in private care facilities
or in programs funded by th Department of Mental Health and Development Disabilities or
the Dept. of Children and Family Services, shall be reported to the Coroner of the County
in which the facility is located. If the Coroner has reason to believe that an investigation is
needed to determine whether the death was caused by maltreatment or negligent care of
the Ward of State, the Coroner may conduct a preliminary investigation of the
circumstances of such death as in- cases of death under circumstances set forth in the
Illinois Compiled Statutes.
10. Any deaths which occur with Winnebago County and not at a hospital or nursing home
facility (at any residence, employer, and / or public facility) will immediately be reported to
VI. CREMATIONS: ALL DEATHS !N WINNEBAGO COUNTY WHERE A CREMATION OF THE
REMAINS IS TO TAKE PLACE.
ILLINOIS COMPILED STATUTES
LAWS PERTAINING TO THE NOTIFICATION OF THE CORONER AND AUTHORIZATION OF THE
REMOVAL OF THE DECEASED.
CORONER TO BE NOTIFIED - VIOLATION
Every Law Enforcement Official, Funeral Director, Ambulance Attendant, Hospital Director or
Administrator or person having custody of the body of a deceased person, where the death is on
subject to investigation under Section 303013, and any Physician in attendance upon such a
decedent at the time of the death, shall notify the Coroner PROMPTLY. Any such person failing to
so notify the Coroner promptly shall be guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor, unless such person has
reasonable cause to believe that the Coroner had already been so notified.
REMOVAL OF BODIES - VIOLATION
No dead body which may be subject to the terms of the Division, or the personal property of such
deceased person, shall be handled, moved, disturbed, embalmed or removed from the place of
death by any person, except with the permission of the Coroner, unless the same shall be necessary
to protect such body or property from damage or destruction, or unless necessary to protect life,
safety, or health. Any person knowingly violating the provisions of the Section is guilty of a Class
In any death where the remains are to be cremated, it shall be the duty of the Funeral Director or
person having custody of the dead body to obtain from the Coroner a permit to cremate the body. The
Coroner's permit to cremate shall be presented to the local registrar in applying for Permit for Disposition
of Dead Human Body provided for in Section 21 of the Vital Records Act, and the local registrar shall attach
the Coroner's permit to cremate to the Permit for Disposition of the Dead Human Body which is issued. No
crematory shall cremate a dead human body unless a Permit for Disposition of Dead Human Body with an
attached Coroner's Permit to cremate has been furnished to authorize the cremation.
Please consult the Coroner's Office
regarding any death about which you have any doubt or question
Coroner's Office: (81 5) - 987 - 5994
Preliminary drawing for llio $8.0 million public' safely building-
1 ... Plans are now awalliiig written eonflrnmUon of federal funding
• • • „ v^n-.*- ><-
■ ■ ■■ '
Z~£gJ£j£ l ~i&iLl^^ rr'i ■-■ , - - -- -'•■ '-'• I atgtadfiAi
Model of proposed Winnebago County public safety building siotr phoit by jo* sn
. . . 140,000-square foot building design is proposed
.. Artiste conception of proposed city-county public safety building
... County courthouse on IpH -jith new facility fronting r- "' «' ■
on W. State Street
Demolition date exfen
Demolition progresses Monday on public safety building site
. . Wreckers given until Jan. 29 to complete job without penalty
Crowd gathers for groundbreaking today of $10.3 million downtown' public safety building
Politicians were plentiful but the cold soon drove everyone. indoors; building site in background
Public safety building
lyill :go up her<^
EXCAVATION BEGINS - Rockford Black
Top Construction Co. employes operate
heavy machinery in excavation for $U:£
million city-county public safety buildings
The excavation began this week and will
continue until April. Black. Top is being
paid $247,000 for the work. The 100 block
of S. Court Street will be closed for the
next two years while work o n the building
is in progress. Most of a parking lot to the
south will be closed to the public because
of .equipment storage for .construction
work. The digging here is on the north-
west lawn of the courthouse. The building
will be constructed next to the courthouse
and will span Court Street into the eastern l
three-quarters of the 500 block of W. Stata
_Street._ft£ .9 -J 3 :04_;„ .' - ..-- J
U.S. Rep. John B. Anderson addresses group at safety building groundbreaking
. . . First shovel of dirt moved despite fact demolition is stili unfinished ^
^^■M^ ia wB ™ l ' R * a ^ 7 « ^rom ^w white dirder being lowered into plac
the Public Safety Building lor the building s 1975 topping on »jw
The Public Safety Building, shortly
before completion, rises from down-
town Rockford on the west side. At the
time, it was considered escap?proof.
Above, the shell of what would become the Public
Safety Building more than a year later was. already
taking shape in July of 1975.
mffi«Ytti&. COLLEGE LIBRARY
iimiiii 111 mill ill
3 9696 10057334 4
Rock Valley College